By Shawn Wansley, Jones Sports Information
ELLISVILLE – The 7th-rated Jones College Bobcats will play its final non-division contest this week.
Even though it’s not an MACJC South Division matchup, there is still plenty to play for when the Bobcats travel to Booneville to face Northeast Mississippi in a 6:30 p.m. kickoff on Thursday. The game will air on www.jcjc.tvand WLAU-FM, 99.3, with Mark Easley and Luke Johnson on the call.
One major purpose for the Bobcat to win this week is to maintain their national ranking.
“No question this is an important game for a lot of reasons,” said Jones head coach Steve Buckley Monday morning when talking about the upcoming matchup with the Tigers. “We take it one week at a time and we have to take this bunch on a four-hour bus trip. We talked about it yesterday.
“I saw it for the first time this year where a maturation process started to take place with this team. I think our kids are focused. Going on the road against a team that has been in every game except the last one is something we have to be prepared for this week.”
Jones is currently 5-1 overall and they lead the MACJC South Division at 4-0.
The Bobcats are coming off a 48-7 thrashing of Pearl River.
Buckley was pleased with the play of his team last week.
“I thought it was a total team effort,” he said. “Once again, we did a great job as a football team of establishing field position. Our average field position in the game was (our) 38 and Pearl River’s average field position was (their) 28. That’s 10 yards per possession and there were 13 possessions in the game.
“That’s not just all because of the kicking game – it’s also because of offense and defense. I thought we did a great job on the fake punt of getting the first down (first possession of the game). It did not look like a major play in the game, but what it did was flip field position for us.”
Freshman running back Kalyn Grandberry (Memphis, Tennessee) rushed 20 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns and had four receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. He had a 73-yard touchdown run and took a short pass from quarterback Stetson Bennett (Blackshear, Georgia) and turned it into a 62-yard touchdown. Running back Donte Edwards (Mobile, Alabama) had nine carries for 64 yards before leaving with a shoulder injury. Bennett was 12-of-19 for 178 yards and three touchdowns.
“Kalyn continues to get better each week,” Buckley aid. “I thought we ran the ball very effectively. Donte is the one that kind of got us going. He had a very good series where he ran for 9, 12 and 21 yards. Then he hurt his shoulder.
“Kalyn carried the load in the second half and he responded to us only having one tailback in the game. I thought he had his best game. In the first half, he ran somewhat cautious and at halftime we challenged him to turn it loose and get downhill and I think he responded.”
Jones finished the game with 247 yards rushing and 191 yards passing for 448 yards of total offense.
Buckley noted the play of the Bobcat offensive line.
“It all starts up front,” he said. “We are getting a hat on a hat. We converted a third and one and we’ve struggled with that this year. We came off with a good surge on that play and Donte got behind his pads and made it. We are getting better offensively.”
Defensively, the Bobcats were swarming.
Jones limited PRCC to 122 yards of total offense, including only two yards in the second half. The Bobcats had 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Pearl River was 0 for 13 on third down.
The Wildcats only score came when they took possession at the Jones’ 37-yard line after a botched onside kick attempt.
“They had 13 possessions and they punted 10 times,” Buckley said. “The one score we gave up was after the botched onside kick. We did what we’ve talked about that we cannot do. We had an offsides penalty on fourth and nine, we had a missed tackle on the next play that allowed the first down and we ended up with 12 men on the field on the next play.
“So, when we do what we are supposed to do, which is align correctly and tackle people, we are usually pretty good. But you get 13 possessions and 10 punts – that’s pretty amazing.”
Linebacker Daylen Gill (Louisville) had four tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss, linebacker Nick Anderson (Vicksburg) had five ½ tackles and one sack, end Chei Hill (Miami, Florida) had three tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss, end Devonte Toles (Pass Christian) had three tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss and Raheem Shorter (Port Gibson) had three ½ tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.
Hill leads the NJCAA with 20 tackles for loss.
“We had 12 tackles for loss and 10 sacks,” Buckley said. “We continue to play well up front.”
On special teams, Enrique Whaley (Stone) returned a blocked punt by Nataurean Watts (Petal) 28 yards for a touchdown and Greg Hayden (Vicksburg) averaged 40.8 yards per punt on four kicks.
“We had another touchdown on special teams,” Buckley said. “Greg continues to punt well. He only punted four times, but I think his first punt was for 58 yards.”
Northeast, coming off a disappointing 41-11 loss to Mississippi Delta, is 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the North Division. The Tigers’ lone win was against Coahoma (20-18). They also have losses to Southwest (33-28), Copiah-Lincoln (21-7), Holmes (28-13) and Itawamba (37-31) in double overtime.
The Tigers are led on offense by quarterback Zac Oden (6-2, 210), who has completed 84-of-174 passes for 950 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. Running back Jalen Cobbs (5-10, 170) has rushed for 374 yards and running back Zykeris Mosley (5-9, 190) has 354 yards. Wide receiver Kortlon Hubbard (6-0, 195) has 23 catches for 393 yards and three touchdowns.
On defense, linebacker Sam Williams (6-5, 260) has 18 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He has committed to Ole Miss. Defensive tackle Emmanuel Olenga (6-5, 265) has 10 ½ tackles for loss and three ½ sacks.
Williams leads the nation in sacks with 11 and is second in tackles for loss with 18.
“Personnel-wise, they’ve got players just like everybody else,” Buckley said of Northeast. “They have been in a bunch of close games and come out on the short end of the stick. But they are a scary football team because they are talented.”
Jones returns to Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field next week for its annual Homecoming game. The Bobcats will host 20 Copiah-Lincoln at 2 p.m. on Oct. 20.
Northeast goes to Northwest on Oct. 18.
W L W L
Jones College 4 0 5 1
Copiah-Lincoln 3 0 4 2
Hinds 2 1 4 2
East Central 2 1 3 3
Miss. Gulf Coast 1 2 4 2
Southwest 0 4 1 5
Pearl River 0 4 0 6
W L W L
East Mississippi 3 0 6 0
Itawamba 3 1 4 2
Northwest 2 1 5 1
Holmes 1 2 3 3
Mississippi Delta 1 3 1 5
Northeast 1 3 1 5
Coahoma 0 3 0 6
Last week’s results
Jones College 48, Pearl River7
Copiah-Lincoln 42, East Central 17
Mississippi Gulf Coast 56, Southwest 7
East Mississippi 34, Northwest 6
Itawamba 37, Holmes 34
Mississippi Delta 41, Northeast 11
Hinds 48, Coahoma 19
Jones College at Northeast, 6:30 p.m.
Hinds at Copiah-Lincoln, 7 p.m.
East Central at Mississippi Gulf Coast, 7 p.m.
Northwest at Coahoma, 7 p.m.
Holmes at East Mississippi, 2 p.m.
Itawamba at Mississippi Delta, 2:30 p.m.
Pearl River at Southwest, 5 p.m.