ELLISVILLE – On paper, Jones County Junior College appears to have the edge heading into this week’s game against the East Central Community College Warriors. The Bobcats are 3-0 overall, 1-0 in the South Division and are ranked No. 5 in the latest NJCAA/JCfootball.com poll. The Warriors are 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the division. But, do not mention any of that to JCJC head coach Eddie Pierce.
“East Central has moved the football against everybody they have played,” he said. “They have a lot of speed and we need to be ready. You get in the South Division and that’s just the way it is.”
The Bobcats and Warriors will hook up at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field. The game will air on WGDQ-93.1 FM and on the internet at www.jcjc.edu with Lance Pittman doing the play-by-play and Mark Easley handling color commentary. Broadcast time will be at 6:30 p.m.
The Bobcats are averaging just over 27 points a game and are giving up just 11.6 points a game on defense. East Central scores just over 24 points a game, but has allowed 119 points through three contests – almost 40 points per game.
However, the Warriors were tied at 21-21 with Hinds in the fourth quarter last week before falling to the Eagles 35-21. They are averaging almost 200 yards a game rushing and 172 yards passing for 372 yards a game of total offense, which is fourth in the state.
Pierce is impressed with their offense.
“They have scored points,” said Pierce. “They have a real fast quarterback (Emmanuel Taylor), who does a good job for them, and they have a guy (Maurice Langston) they will use at receiver and tailback some. They have a lot of speed and we are going to have to play well defensively.”
Jones is coming off a hard-fought, 21-9 decision at Co-Lin. The Bobcats had several players injured during the game, including sophomore running back Maurice Ducksworth. Ducksworth hurt a knee on the game’s first series and will not play.
“Ducksworth will be out, but the rest of them will be back to practice,” said Pierce. “It was a physical game at Co-Lin. It’s hard to play over there. They are a tough bunch and it’s always a physical game. It will be the same this week.”
In the victory over the Wolves, Jones got touchdown runs of 1 and 11 yards from Daniel Borne and a 7-yard scoring pass from quarterback Early James to Laurel freshman receiver Anthony Jackson.
Borne rushed for 89 yards on 22 carries and now leads the state in scoring with seven touchdowns. Jackson had six receptions for 116 yards, including a 47-yarder on the team’s first play from scrimmage. On that play, both Jackson and the defensive back fell down, but Jackson caught the ball while flat on his back.
“Early showed a lot of toughness and Borne had to carry the load after Maurice got hurt,” said Pierce. “They did well. Jackson made some big plays for us. Of course, we knew he had it in him. He made some great plays, especially the first catch. That was a heckuva catch.”
Defensively, the Bobcats had several standouts, including sophomore strong safety Elliott McGaskin, who had a pass interception. Sophomore linebacker Eric Lichtenstein had several tackles, recovered a fumble and almost had a couple of interceptions. Caleb McQueen and William Veasley had fumble recoveries.
“Lichtenstein made a lot of plays and should have had about three interceptions. Riley Flowers and Darrion Wilson both had good games again at defensive end. But, I really thought it was just a combined effort on defense. They played well and we had a lot of ‘3 and outs.’ That is something we really push for.”
Co-Lin scored midway through the fourth quarter to trim Jones’ lead to 14-9, but the Bobcats immediately responded with a 61-yard, six-play march, capped by Borne’s 1-yard run to ice the game with just over four minutes to play.
Pierce was glad to see that.
“The kids fought back,” said Pierce. “We were a little sluggish in the first half, I thought. But, we came back and got it done in the second half. I was proud of that.”
The Bobcats are 1/3 through their regular season. Pierce is pleased with the team’s progress, but knows there is room for improvement.
“I hope we can be a little more consistent on both sides of the ball,” he said. “If we can do that and keep everybody healthy, I think we will be fine.”
The Bobcats go on the road next week, facing Hinds on Thursday, Sept. 25. East Central will hold Homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 27, vs. Southwest.