Meridian Star

Sports

October 16, 2013

JCJC can clinch South Division with win

HATTIESBURG — The 6th-ranked Jones County Junior College Bobcats have quite a bit riding on Thursday’s game at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

    The Bobcats can clinch top seed in the MACJC South Division with a victory over the Bears. That would enable them to host a first-round playoff game on Nov. 2 as the South’s top seed for the first time since the 2001 season when they beat Northwest en route to winning the state championship. The Bobcats, after finishing second in the South and winning a first-round playoff game at Northeast, did host the state championship in 2002 and lost to Holmes.

    Head coach Ray Perkins knows what is on the line for JCJC at Summit.

    “All I know is that if we win the game, we are in as the No. 1 team from the South,” he said Wednesday morning. “I really don’t know about what happens otherwise and I really don’t care. We just want to play well and win the game.”

    Thursday’s game will kick off at 6:30 p.m. The game will air on www.jcjc.tv and WLAU-FM, 99.3.

    Coming off a 24-20 loss to Hinds Community College, the Bobcats are currently 6-1 overall, 4-1 in the division. A win over Southwest would give them a 5-1 division record and end league play.

    That would essentially place them in a two-way tie with the winner of Thursday’s Co-Lin at Mississippi Gulf Coast game. But the Bobcats would have the edge over either the Wolfpack or the Bulldogs because of their head-to-head victories over each team earlier this year.

    Southwest enters the game at 2-5 overall, 1-3 in the division.

    In last week’s loss to Hinds, JCJC had numerous opportunities, but could not capitalize. The Bobcats jumped out to a 20-3 lead at halftime.

    Quarterback Steven Swindle had touchdown passes of 7 yards to Quartez Cooks and 14 yards to JaMicheal Willis, while Grant McLaurin booted field goals of 44 and 39 yards.

    But the game changed on a strange play early in the third quarter.

    Hinds lined up to attempt a 25-yard field goal, but the Bobcats blocked it. However, the Eagles were able to recover the ball and advance it into the end zone for the touchdown. Hinds then hit a 78-yard touchdown pass and had a 22-yard scoring run to take a four-point lead into the fourth quarter.

    In the final period, the Bobcats turned the ball over on downs at the Eagle 25. Next, they had a fourth and goal at the Hinds’ 2, but an errant snap resulted in an 18-yard loss. Later, JCJC had a fourth and 4 at the Hinds’ 14, but a pass fell incomplete.

    Finally, with 50 seconds remaining, the Bobcats had a first and goal at the 5. But Swindle’s pass into the end zone was picked off and Hinds held on for the win.

    Cooks ended the game with 163 yards receiving on nine catches, while Willis had 104 yards on eight receptions. Swindle was 33-of-60 for 428 yards and two scores.

    Defensively, linebacker Jamal Lucas had 11 tackles, while tackle Jamarcus Blanks had 10 tackles, three quarterback sacks and recovered a fumble. Linebacker Fezell Myers had eight tackles, one tackle for loss and recovered a fumble. Linebacker Ashton Elzey had three quarterback sacks, while end Lazarus Shelby had two sacks and recovered a fumble. Defensive back Marcus Betts had five tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception, while Coty Mitchell recovered a fumble.

    The Bears, under first-year head coach Tucker Peavey, are 2-5 overall, 1-3 in the division. They have beaten Northwest Mississippi (19-15) and East Central (24-7). They have lost to Itawamba (40-6), East Mississippi (69-0), Pearl River (38-14), Hinds (40-20) and Mississippi Gulf Coast (48-7).

    “They have good players,” Perkins said of the Bears. “They will put 11 players on the field for every snap, just like we do. I expect them to play hard and give a great effort.

    “I’ve been there before. I’m sure they know it will make their season if they can beat us and I’m sure that’s what their coaches have told them.”

    The Bears rely on quarterback De’Angelo Ballard (6-0, 190), running back Chris Jones (5-9, 165) and wide receiver Jonathan McNair (5-7, 170) on offense.  Defensively, tackle Terrien Steele (6-4, 265), linebacker C.J. O’Quinn (6-0, 210), defensive back Steven Joiner (5-10, 205), linebacker Troy Egana (5-8, 180) and defensive back Lonnie Bonner Jr. (5-9, 165) lead the way.

    Perkins said the Bobcats have respect for the Bears.

    “We’ve tried to get across to our players that Southwest will play well,” he said. “Our players know what’s on the line. I want them to go out, play well and have some fun.”

    The Bobcats close regular season play with their annual Homecoming game at 2 p.m. on Oct. 26 against Northwest Mississippi. The game will air on www.jcjc.tv.

    Southwest concludes the regular season at Co-Lin on Oct. 24.

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