Junior Colleges

East Central downs PRCC, clinches playoff berth

MATT BUSH/JUCO WEEKLY 
 An East Central defender draws a bead on Pearl River quarterback Marshall Kranz during junior college football action Thursday night at Poplarville.
MATT BUSH/JUCO WEEKLY An East Central defender draws a bead on Pearl River quarterback Marshall Kranz during junior college football action Thursday night at Poplarville.

POPLARVILLE - The defense showed up for Pearl River Community College, but the offense was once again nowhere to be found Thursday night against East Central.

As a result, the Warriors took a 20-3 victory over the Wildcats in the season finale for PRCC.

Pearl River finished 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the South Division, while the Warriors (7-2, 4-2) will continue their season next week in the MACJC semifinals at East Mississippi.

"I think we got locked in on what they were doing," said PRCC coach William Jones. "We thought if we set some edges, I thought we'd have a chance. But it's just hard to play with your backs against the wall all the time."

Turnovers proved to be PRCC's downfall, as three fumbles and an interception led directly to 13 of the Warriors' points.

East Central used a big pass play to jump on top with 3:29 left in the first quarter, when Jesse Hosket connected with Henri Murphy on a 51-yard touchdown pass.

The Wildcats got their only points of the night midway through the second quarter after driving as far as the East Central 2-yard-line before settling for Brennan O'Keefe's 22-yard field goal.

Later in the second quarter, the Wildcats lost a fumble at their own 7-yard line, and Hosket needed just one play to find Kabion Ento in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

The Warriors had two golden opportunities in the second half after recovering a Wildcat fumble at the PRCC 17, then intercepting a pass and returning the pick to the Wildcat 23.

Both times, however, Pearl River denied ECCC a first down and the Warriors were forced to settle for field goals of 23 and 36 yards by Aaron Garrett.

The Wildcats also stopped East Central four times on fourth down.

"Everybody gave it their all," said PRCC linebacker Jarkeith Ruffin. "We had a couple of tough breaks on the offensive side, but everybody played hard."

However, PRCC only converted 3 of 14 third-downs and totaled 196 yards of offense and 11 first downs.

East Central was led offensively by freshman Tredarian Gamble, who ran 23 times for 139 yards and caught five passes for 38 yards.

"We told each other just to play your hearts out," said Wildcat safety Tavarious Moore, who has committed to Southern Miss. "We tried to stop them as much as we could, even with bad field position.

"You just have to play for your teammates, no matter what. Just go out and do your job each and every play. I hope I can take everything I learned here on to D-1."

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