Northeast Mississippi held on to defeat the Wildcats 26-23 Saturday at Dobie Holden Stadium, spoiling PRCC's homecoming.
PRCC dropped to 2-6 for the season, while the Tigers are also 2-6 after the victory.
Pearl River never led, but had a chance late in the game after closing the margin to three points on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Marshall Kranz to Darreal Cook.
But the Tigers were able to convert two key third downs, including one on a personal foul face mask call, then closed out the game by getting a fourth down with under a minute to play.
"The teams that are ranked nationally learn how to finish, especially on the money down, on third down," said PRCC coach William Jones. "We didn't make some plays when we had to."
Freshman Marshall Kranz got the start at quarterback, and while he played well, his first mistake of the game set the Tigers up for the opening score of the game, on a 6-yard by quarterback Kendrick Doss.
The Wildcats added a 32-yard field goal by Brennan O'Keefe late in the first quarter, but Northeast extended its lead early in the third quarter, driving 32 yards on four plays, getting the score on a 12-yard pass from Doss to L.J. Hawkins.
Hawkins had a big day for the Tigers, catching 6 passes for 77 yards and three touchdowns.
PRCC came right back, though, as Tavarious Moore took the ensuing kickoff 68 yards, and a personal foul penalty for a horse collar tackle gave the Wildcats the ball at the Northeast 9-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Kevon Marsh scored from 6 yards out.
However, Northeast proceeded to march 78 yards on 15 plays, with Hawkins scoring on an 11-yard pass from Bailey Walker.
The Tigers converted three third downs and a fourth down on the drive, as they were 9 of 18 on third down and 4 of 5 on fourth downs for the game.
Kranz got the Wildcats back in the game early in the third quarter, after Randy Hogan recovered a fumble on the first play of the second half, finding Neicill McNair open in the end zone for a 29-yard scoring strike.
"I was a little nervous, but I've been busting my butt in practice, hoping for a chance to get some playing time," said Kranz, who was 20 of 33 for 178 yards. "I finally got a chance to show out."
Northeast padded its lead, however, with another long march in the third quarter, using 5:15 off the clock and driving 87 yards on 13 plays. Walker and Hawkins hooked up again for the score on a 19-yard pass play.
Pearl River got its opportunity to rally when Stevie Scott picked off a pass from Doss and returned it 33 yards.
A personal foul penalty set the Wildcats up at the Northeast 27, and a pass interference call in the end zone moved the ball to the 12, leading to Kranz' TD pass to Cook.
"It was his turn," said Jones. "We've had injuries and inconsistent play, so we decided to give Marshall a chance, and he did some good things."