PRCC steps out of division this week

By STAN CALDWELL,

POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College will get a much-needed break from South Division play this week when the Wildcats venture north to battle Itawamba in their final non-division game of the season.

Kickoff Thursday at Eaton Field in Fulton is scheduled for 7 p.m. This is the last Thursday game of the season, as PRCC plays four consecutive Saturdays in October, beginning Oct. 7 at Southwest Mississippi.

The Wildcats (2-2 overall, 1-1 division) are licking their wounds after a disappointing 42-16 setback to Hinds last week at home.

“It’s disappointing, but we’re going to put it behind us and come back and get ready for a long road trip against a good football team,” said Pearl River coach Ted Egger.

Itawamba (1-3, 1-1) opened the season by dropping a pair of tough losses, 42-41 at Gulf Coast and 35-31 at home to Hinds, then knocked off then-No. 5 Northwest 27-24. The Indians were 48-24 losers last week at top-ranked East Mississippi.

The Wildcats were their own worst enemies last week against Hinds. Pearl River committed five turnovers – three interceptions and two fumbles – and was flagged nine times for 102 yards.

“We can’t have those kinds of mistakes and beat good teams like Hinds,” Egger said. “We’re going to work on correcting those things before the next game.”

On the bright side, PRCC had another good offensive showing, putting up 425 yards, including 294 yards on the ground. Freshman Ron Thompson (Bassfield) had 128 yards on 16 carries, and redshirt freshman Caleb Batie (Foxworth) added 94 yards on 10 runs.

The Indians are led by sophomore quarterback Dan Ellington, who leads the MACJC with 371 passing yards per game. For the season, Ellington has completed 121-of-190 passes (63.7 percent) for 1,484 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s been picked off four times.

THE SERIES

This is the 41st meeting between the Wildcats and the Indians, with PRCC leading the series 25-14-1. Itawamba won last season’s meeting at Poplarville 51-34.

The two teams are also set to play in 2018 and 2019 before once again rotating off the schedule. Prior to last year, the previous meeting in the series was in 2011, a 34-8 Wildcat victory.