POPLARVILLE— Pearl River played perhaps its best three quarters of football last week against then-No. 20 East Central. Now the task for the Wildcats is carry what worked over into Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. road tilt at Hinds.
The game will be streamed at PRCCAthletics.comand can also be heard on WRJW 1320-AM in Pearl River County and WCJU 104.9-FM in Columbia.
“The biggest thing to me is our kids were down 24-0 and they didn’t quit,” PRCC coach Ted Egger said. “They actually took it as a challenge and played really well. That’s a testament to their character and the type of kids we have.
“We had an opportunity to win the game in the fourth.”
Making his first start of the season, quarterback Tavis Williams (Gulfport; Harrison Central) sparked the Wildcats (0-4, 0-2), rushing for almost 100 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 114 yards and another score.
“He has the ability to do what we’re looking for. He just needs some confidence,” Egger said. “He has a great arm. He just has to trust what he sees and take advantage of it. He’ll continue to grow and get better.”
Running back Ron Thompson (Bassfield) rushed for a game-high 178 yards on a season-high 26 carries and it was his second-best performance of the young season, topped by his 214 yards in the team’s opener against Itawamba. Entering Thursday’s game, Thompson ranks fifth nationally and tops in the MACJC with 482 yards on 68 carries.
“Ron is just a great football player,” Egger said of Thompson, who is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. “He’s tough, hard to bring down, doesn’t go down on the first hit and always falls forward. He did a great job.”
The Wildcat defense had a breakout performance of sorts against ECCC as a number of players stepped up, including but not limited to safety Damian Gray (Clarksdale), linebacker Josh Booker-Brown (Houston, Texas; Westfield) and lineman Josh Smith (New Orleans; Landry Walker).
“As a whole our defense did a great job playing the type of football we expect them to play,” Egger said. “They ran to the football, were gap sound and communicate well with each other.
“They did everything we asked them to do.”
Hinds enters Thursday’s tilt having traded wins and losses each of the first four weeks of the season, with wins over Delta and Southwest and losses to East Mississippi and Jones College.
“They’re a good football team with an explosive offense,” Egger said. “We have to limit the big plays.”
The Eagles boast two of the newly anointed MACJC Players of the Week in running back Don Ragsdale and kicker Carson Flumm.
Ragsdale has been Hinds’ go-to back, rushing for 310 yards and five TDs on 62 carries. Sophomore quarterback Tylan Morton has completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns — but has also thrown four interceptions. While five receivers have caught at least six passes this season, Eric Clark is easily the team’s top target with 23 receptions for 293 yards and four touchdowns.
Pearl River leads the all-time series against Hinds 39-37-2, according to school records.
After Thursday’s road tilt, PRCC will return home Oct. 4 to host Jones College at 6 p.m.