Pearl River looking for relentless effort at No. 4 Gulf Coast
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River football team will have its hands full Thursday as it makes the 35-minute drive to Perkinston to take on archrival and fourth-ranked Gulf Coast. For the Wildcats, the key to the matchup is to play with relentless effort on every single snap.
"It's coach-speak, but it's the truth. If you let off any or you fit in the wrong gap, they will score," head coach Seth Smith said. "If you strain every play and fit in the proper gaps, then you give yourself a chance. When you play a team like this — you can't afford to make a mistake. You have to play your tail off on every single down. We need to be relentless."
The Pearl River offense came alive last week against Hinds, scoring two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes of the game. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, HCC walked away with a 24-21 victory in overtime.
"That's what we thought we could be all year. You just hate that it took three games to get to that point," Smith said. "Coach (David) Chatham and the offensive guys had a tremendous game plan. I was really proud of our pass protection. We gave our quarterback time to make the right reads."
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
Quarterback Dustin Allison (Pass Christian) is 44-for-78 for 385 yards and two touchdowns this season. Hinds was Allison's best showing of the year as he went 17-for-23 for 179 yards and two scores.
"That was the reason we brought Dustin back," Smith said. "That's what he is. He's an excellent quarterback. Unfortunately, either scheme or protection around him hasn't been great. We brought him back so he could do what he did on Thursday. He gave us an opportunity to win that game."
Kayvon Barnes (Pascagoula) has carved out a role and now leads PRCC in rushing. He has carried the ball 42 times for 196 yards.
On the receiving end, Marquis McCoy (Crestview, Fla.) continues to impress. The redshirt sophomore has caught 20 passes for 145 yards this season, including a seven for 70 yards and two touchdowns showing a week ago.
"That's what you want your out-of-staters to do. You get 15 of them, and you want to hit on them," Smith said. "We definitely hit on him. In his first touchdown, he broke two tackles. It was probably an eight-yard pass that he took into the endzone. That's what we needed. You have to make a play when the ball gets in your hands, and he did that."
Dalton Lee (Carriere; Pearl River Central) leads PRCC in tackles with 33. He's racked up 4.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. Eli Hackbarth (Birmingham, Ala.; Oak Mountain), Tyree Jackson (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove), and Caleb Williams (D'Iberville) are all tied for second on the team in tackles with 25 apiece.
ABOUT GULF COAST
The Bulldogs enter the week 4-0 and fresh off an impressive 42-17 victory over the then No. 6 East Mississippi Lions. They average 49 points per game and allow just 16. MGCCC also boasts a 506.5 yards per game mark.
"They're exceptional. They don't have a weakness. When you go into a game like this, you have to understand that if you blink any, they're going to get you," Smith said. "We have to be the best version of ourselves and fight our tails off for four quarters. If we do that, we'll give ourselves a shot."
Leading the way for Gulf Coast at the quarterback position is sophomore Eli Anderson, who has completed 63 of 105 passes for 980 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's only been picked off three times.
Running back Jamari Thompson has been far and away the Bulldogs' leading rusher this season. He has tallied 71 carries for 433 yards. He's averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Receiver Jay Dupree has hauled in 20 catches for 417 yards and seven touchdowns. Running back Dayan Bilbo is second in receptions and yards with 15 and 205, respectively.
On the defensive side of the ball, Wyatt Wright leads the team in tackles with 30. Fellow linebacker Keshawn Thomas is second with 28. He also has two tackles for loss.
Thursday's meeting with MGCCC marks the 101st all time. PRCC used an epic fourth-quarter defensive stand last season to propel it to a 24-14 victory, moving the all-time series to 56-43-1 in favor of the Wildcats.
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time at MGCCCBulldogs.com/Tickets or at the gate.
All Pearl River football games are livestreamed for free at PRCCMedia.com/Gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from their app stores.
Games will also be available over the air in Pearl River County by tuning into 1320 AM and 106.9 FM. The radio broadcast is also available at WRJWRadio.com and by downloading the WRJW app.