No. 6 Bobcats clinch top seed in South Division with win over BearsOctober 18, 2013
By Shawn Wansley, JCJC Sports Information Director
SUMMIT – For the first time since 2001, the Jones County Junior College Bobcats will be entering the MACJC playoffs as the top seed out of the South Division.
The 6th-ranked Bobcats clinched the top spot with a workmanlike, 31-10 victory over the Southwest Mississippi Community College Bears here Thursday night at John I. Hurst Stadium.
JCJC is now 7-1 overall and concludes division play at 5-1. The winner of Saturday’s Co-Lin at Mississippi Gulf Coast contest will also have just one division loss going into their final league game next week. But JCJC has the edge over both teams because of head-to-head victories over the Wolfpack and Bulldogs earlier this season.
The Bobcats will host a playoff game on Nov. 2 at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field against the No. 2 team from the North Division, which will be the loser of next week’s Itawamba at East Mississippi contest. It will be the first time for a playoff game to be held at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field, which opened in 2003.
The last time JCJC hosted a playoff contest was the state championship game in 2002 when the Bobcats fell to Holmes in the final game played at Bush-Young Stadium. JCJC entered the playoffs that year as the No. 2 seed from the South and won its opening round playoff game at Northeast Mississippi.
Thursday’s clinching victory by head coach Ray Perkins’ Bobcats was viewed by NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells. Parcells, who coached for Perkins with the New York Giants, road the bus with the Bobcat team and watched the game from the JCJC sideline.
Jones put up touchdowns on its first two possessions and then proceeded to grind out the victory over Southwest.
The Bears took the opening kickoff and drove from their 25-yard line to the JCJC 18. But facing a fourth and 1, the Bears’ Jamal Hall was stuffed for no gain and the Bobcats took over on downs.
JCJC then marched 82 yards in 13 plays for a score. The drive was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Justin Harris. Grant McLaurin’s extra point made it 7-0 with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
The Bobcats then forced a ‘three and out’ and took over at the Southwest 36, following a 31-yard punt.
Four plays later, quarterback Steven Swindle found a leaping Quartez Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass. McLaurin’s conversion made it 14-0 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
Southwest’s next possession ended on a pass interception by Victor Jenkins.
But the Bears would then get on the scoreboard the next time they got the ball.
Southwest marched 45 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Chris Jones went over from a yard out, Michael McDaniel added the extra point and the Bobcats led 14-7 with 13:18 left in the first half.
Two possessions later, Jenkins would come through with another interception. Southwest had driven into JCJC territory, but Jenkins intercepted a De’Angelo Ballard pass at his own 35 and returned it to the Bear 36.
Seven plays later, Thamaz Taylor scored on a 13-yard run. McLaurin’s extra point made it 21-7 with 4:27 left in the second quarter.
The only other scoring threat of the half came when Southwest drove to the JCJC 28. But McDaniel’s 45-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the first half was well short.
The Bobcat defense helped to set up the first score of the second half.
Steven Eddings sacked Ballard for a 19-yard loss and forced the Bears into a fourth and 27 at their own 1. McDaniel fielded a low snap and managed only an 18-yard punt and JCJC took over at the Bear 19.
Three plays later, quarterback Kenny Coleman hit Cooks for a 17-yard scoring pass. Coleman had entered the game early in the second quarter after Swindle was shaken up on a play. McLaurin’s extra point made it 28-7 with 11:59 left in the third quarter.
The Bears would take the ensuing kickoff and drive from their 15 to the JCJC 9 where the drive stalled. McDaniel booted a 26-yard field goal with 7:10 left in the third quarter to make it 28-10. A 64-yard run by Jones was the big play of the drive.
The final points of the game came when McLaurin booted a 45-yard field goal with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter.
Southwest had one more threat, driving inside the JCJC 15. But Jamal Lucas intercepted a pass off a Lawrence Hopkins’ deflection at his own 9 to end the drive.
Harris led the Bobcats on the ground with 74 yards on 17 carries, while Taylor rushed 11 times for 67 yards. Swindle was 7-of-10 for 79 yards and a score, while Coleman was 7-of-17 for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Cooks had three receptions for 43 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones rushed 25 times for 216 yards for Southwest.
The Bobcats ended the game with 358 yards, while Southwest had 289 yards.
JCJC concludes regular season play at home at 2 p.m. on Oct. 26 against Northwest Mississippi. The annual Homecoming game will air on www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley and Ed Smith on the call.
The Bears, 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the division, end their season at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Co-Lin.