Photo/Zac Chamblee

By Shawn Wansley, Jones Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – With the top seed in the MACJC South Division secure, the 7th-ranked Jones College Bobcats will try to continue their momentum this week.

The Bobcats end regular season play with a 6:30 p.m. game Thursday at East Central. The game will air on www.jcjc.tvand WLAU-FM, 99.3, with Mark Easley and Chuck Robertson on the call.

Jones defeated No. 17 Copiah-Lincoln last week 28-23 to wrap up the top spot in the South.

Head coach Steve Buckley was pleased to see his team clinch its second straight division title.

“I was proud of the kids for getting mentally and physically ready to play,” he said Monday. “We wanted to make it a physical game on both sides of the ball. We told the kids all week it starts up front on the O-line and the D-line. I think if you look at the end result and the statistics on the game, we answered that challenge.

“We had a lot of yards rushing and stopped them from rushing and when you do that, with the physicality part of it, what we emphasized during the week came true.”

With the victory, the Bobcats will now host an MACJC first-round playoff game on Nov. 3. Jones will entertain the winner of Thursday’s No. 5 Northwest at Itawamba contest at a time to be announced.

In last week’s victory, freshman running back Kalyn Grandberry (Memphis, Tennessee) rushed for 189 yards, including touchdown runs of 77 and 6 yards. Grandberry now has 1,057 yards on the season, which leads the MACJC and ranks second in the NJCAA. He was named the MACJC Offensive Player of the Week.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett (Blackshear, Georgia) had 66 yards on the ground and a touchdown and freshman running back Donte Edwards (Mobile, Alabama) had 37 yards and a score as Jones held a huge 286-6 rushing yards advantage over the Wolves.

Buckley was thrilled with the play of the offensive line and running backs.

“Even if you take that long run out, Kalyn still had a fantastic game,” he said. “I thought both backs ran really hard. Donte had a 20-plus yarder called back. He did a great job of getting his pads down and he’s worked hard on that. But it all starts up front. We got a hat on a hat.

“If you recruit the right tailbacks and get a hat on a hat, you are going to make yards.”

On defense, the Bobcats were solid, especially in the first half.

“In the first half, they had six possessions and ran 25 plays,” Buckley said. “The first 18 plays, they had 27 yards. In the six possessions, they had four ‘3 and outs,’ a six-play drive for a punt and a seven-play drive for a field goal. We should have been off the field on that, but we had a pass interference penalty. So, they had six possessions with five punts and a field goal.

“What more could you ask for? We dominated defensively in that half.”

Safety Fred Peters (Columbia) was credited with 8 ½ tackles, while end Chei Hill (Miami, Florida) had 4 ½ tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Hill has 25 TFLs, which ties him for first in the nation, and 10 sacks, which ties him for fourth nationally.

Cornerback Jamar Richardson (Aliceville, Alabama) had 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL and 1 pass breakup. Linebacker Nick Anderson (Louisville) had 5 tackles and 1 TFL, while Gabe Rogers (Jackson Callaway) and Jonathan Haynes (Ray Brooks) each had 4 tackles. DaShawn Crawford (Bay Springs) had 2 ½ tackles and 1 TFL and linebacker Davis Harrison (Lamar School) had 2 tackles and 1 TFL.

Rogers and Lakevias Daniel (Louisville) each had an interception.

Buckley said it was a team effort on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s hard to single out anybody,” he said. “As much ‘man’ coverage as we play, our DBs are kind of like offensive linemen. You only get recognized when there is a penalty. We are an active defense and we are a ‘risk/reward’ defense.”

The Bobcats led 14-3 at halftime, but hurt themselves in the second half with mistakes.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot offensively in the second half,” Buckley said. “We made some poor checks at the line of scrimmage and had some holding penalties that put us behind the chains. We put our defense at a disadvantage. We had two mistakes in the kicking game in the second half that could have cost us. We had a blocked punt and a fumble on a kickoff return.

“The momentum shifted their way in the third quarter. But it’s a testament to our kids in the way they responded.”

Buckley pointed out one aspect of last week’s game that was critical.

“We said at halftime the wind was going to be a huge factor,” he said. “So, we knew we would have the wind in the fourth quarter. In my mind, I was trying to get through the third quarter as safe as we could. The average fan probably did not understand that the wind was such a factor in the game.”

East Central enters this week at 4-4 overall and 3-2 in division play. The Warriors still have an outside shot at the playoffs.

The Warriors have wins over Itawamba (34-28), Southwest (28-21), Pearl River (24-21) and Hinds (17-14). Losses have been to Northwest (28-24), No. 1 East Mississippi (24-21), Co-Lin (42-17) and No. 15 Mississippi Gulf Coast (27-14).

Top-rated East Mississippi had to kick a 19-yard field goal with four seconds to play to defeat head coach Ken Karcher’s Warriors.

Buckley has great respect for ECCC and he remembers the Bobcats dropping a xx-xx decision in Decatur two years ago.

“Ken Karcher and his staff do a tremendous job,” he said. “They are in every game they play. Two year ago, we went up there and did not play well in the first half. They took some things away from us. We ended up making it a fourth quarter game, but they found a way to win.

“They have been in a lot of close games and have taken some really good teams to the wire. There will not be any oversight on our part. We started yesterday (Sunday) in meetings telling our kids that East Central is a darn good football team and we have to get ready to play.”

Jones had 10 days to prepare for Co-Lin as they played their only Saturday regular season game of the year.

This week, they have a quick turnaround with only five days to get ready for East Central.

“Last week seemed like the longest week in the history of coaching,” Buckley said. “I told the kids last night that they had Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday night to sleep and then you’ve got to play. It’s important that we take care of our bodies this week.

“We’ve got to get off our feet and rest and be smart. We can’t really trim practice back because we don’t practice long anyway.”

Jones will announce a starting time for the Nov. 3 playoff game after Thursday’s game.

MACJC standings

SOUTH DIVISION

                                    DIVISION                                 OVERALL

                                    W        L                                  W        L

*Jones College            5          0                                  7          1

Copiah-Lincoln            4          1                                  5          3

Miss. Gulf Coast          3          2                                  6          2

East Central                 3          2                                  4          4

Hinds                           2          3                                  4          4

Pearl River                  1          5                                  1          7

Southwest                   0          5                                  1          7

NORTH DIVISION 

                                    W        L                                  W        L

*East Mississippi        5          0                                  8          0

Northwest                   4          1                                  7          1

Itawamba                   3          2                                  5          3

Mississippi Delta         3          3                                  3          5

Holmes                       2          3                                  4          4

Northeast                    1          4                                  1          7

Coahoma                     0          5                                  0          8

*-Clinched division title

Last week’s results

Jones College 28, Copiah-Lincoln 23

East Central 17, Hinds 14

Mississippi Gulf Coast 30, Pearl River 7

Itawamba 41, Southwest 0

East Mississippi 47, Coahoma 0

Northwest 31, Northeast 7

Holmes 34, Mississippi Delta 14

Thursday’s games

Jones College at East Central, 6:30 p.m.

Northwest at Itawamba, 6:30 p.m.

Holmes at Coahoma, 6:30 p.m.

East Mississippi at Northeast, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Pearl River at Mississippi Delta, 2:30 p.m.

Southwest at Copiah-Lincoln, 3 p.m.

Hinds at Mississippi Gulf Coast, 3:30 p.m.