POPLARVILLE – While the rest of junior college will wait to start in the spring, Mississippi junior colleges recently kicked off their six-game season.
This year’s season opener marked the beginning of the Seth Smith coaching era for PRCC as the Wildcats hosted rival and 2019 national champions Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
PRCC’s new chapter opened with a bang as the Wildcats scored on the game’s first play with quarterback Jakob Greer throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass to Chris Holifield.
“It was exciting,” Smith said. “They got in the exact look that we thought they would. We thought they’d be in man, and we brought our running back out and put him on a linebacker, and it was.
‘We have repped it for a couple of weeks.”
However, the excitement was short-lived as MGCCC’s talented quickly shined and held a 21-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. MGCCC’s running back Deondre House was nearly unstoppable as he totaled 220 rushing yards and scored a touchdown by the end of the night and helped lead the Bulldogs to a 42-25 win.
The Bulldog defense took away PRCC’s run game and forced the Wildcat defense to become one dimensional. PRCC’s quarterbacks Greer and Davidson split time evenly and combined to finish 29-of-51 and passed for 282 yards, one touchdown and one in terception while the entire run game was held to 71 yards.
“Obviously, we have to get 20 points better if we want to compete in this league,” Smith said. That team is the standard in junior college and there are no moral victories, but I think we fought. There is a lot of things we have to clean up and get better at, but we will work at it.
“I thought both of them played good enough to help us win. They both made mistakes, but I’m proud of them for their first game together. For the most part, they didn’t do anything to hurt us. As they game regressed, they got into a rhythm, but we have to do a better job of helping them.”
While PRCC struggled at times on offense, its special teams had simply a bad night as the group had several poor punts, three missed PATs and a missed field goal.
“Special teams was really bad,” Smith said. “That’s something we will fix. With college football, we have to make extra points. We will do it every day. At no point did I think we laid down. We just have to get better.”
Hattiesburg Defensive Backs
Former Hattiesburg standouts Jadarrius Perkins and Jarius McFarland both came down with interceptions for their respective schools.
Perkins, who plays for MGCCC, came down with an interception in the first half. However, Perkin’s interception was the best highlight for the Bulldog secondary was the group was flagged for several passing interference plays and gave up multiple big plays.
McFarland, who plays with PRCC, also came down with an interception in the first half.
“(McFarland) has been a team leader really all of camp,” Smith said. “He is a vocal guy and is a great kid from Hattiesburg.”
Petal Quarterback Shines
Petal alum DeCarlos Nicholson split time with quarterback Philip Short. The two combined to finish 16-of-31 and pass for 303 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We have two really good quarterbacks,” MGCCC coach Jack Wright said. “I knew both of them were talented. They can both play. They both bring some different skills to the table. They are both still true freshmen. They were both playing high school football last year. there is not a lot of people that successfully pull off making that jump as true freshmen in college football in their first year.”
Nicholson was 6-of-9 and passed for 91 yards while rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s what we have seen in practice,” Wright said. “He has the ability to pull it down. We don’t hit the quarterback in practice, so sometimes, when he pulls it down in practice, and he escapes, you are not sure if it is legit or not. Tonight, we saw that he was legit. He is a super talented kid and brings a lot of skills to the table. He has a cannon arm. We’re excited to see him grow.”
For Nicholson, replacing former quarterback Chance Lovertich’s production has been a focal point for himself and House.
“It’s hard because you are really reminded about it a lot,” Nicholson said.” The chance to get into games here and with the bar he set, you have to bring your A-game to practice every day and be focused and produce.
“(My biggest critique) is just calming down and making those easy throws that I can make and not being hard on myself. I know I have a great team that can pick me up if I make a mistake.”
PRCC will travel to Copiah-Lincoln Community College next week.