ELLISVILLE – Head coach Steve Buckley could not find much fault with his Jones College Bobcats after its first game.
“I thought we executed very well in all three phases,” he said of the Bobcats’ 34-5 victory over East Central here in the season opener on Oct. 1. “Did we make some mistakes? Yes. But I thought the overall execution going through the last two months of going through what we’ve been through was very good, especially playing 43 new kids.”
After an open date, the Bobcats (1-0) will now head to Hinds for its second game of the season. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Joe Renfroe Stadium and the game will air on JCJC.TV, SuperTalk WLAU-FM, 99.3, and SuperTalkLaurel.com with Mark Easley and Luke Johnson on the call.
Jones is rated No. 2 in the latest JCGridiron.rivals.com “Dirty 30” poll and the Eagles are listed at No. 45.
The Eagles are coming off a 31-24, overtime loss to defending state and national champion Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hinds led the game 14-0 in the second quarter. MGCCC led 24-17 late, but the Eagles forced overtime with a touchdown with just 13 seconds left in regulation.
Buckley said there will be no surprises from head coach Larry Williams and the Eagles.
“Hinds is the same Hinds they always are,” he said. “Larry and his staff do a great job. When you play Hinds you are going to face speed all over the football field on both sides. They can run and their quarterbacks are athletic. They have a big offensive line and they get the right hat on the right hat and their running backs can run.
“If you look at Hinds over the last four years we’ve been here, they are not going to change what they do. They will challenge you vertically in the passing game and they are going to run inside and outside zone. You had better bow up and be ready to play.”
Hinds had 323 yards of total offense vs. the Bulldogs. Running back Dajon Richard had 24 carries for 101 yards and quarterback BeSean McCray had 147 yards passing and 42 yards on the ground.
The Bobcats had numerous bright spots vs. East Central, led by sophomore quarterback Quaterius Hawkins (Bastrop, Louisiana). Hawkins was 16-of-25 through the air for 226 yards and rushed seven times for 23 yards.
“DaeDae played very well,” Buckley said. “I thought he could be a really good quarterback since he got here. I told him after the game vs. Northwest in the playoffs last year (a 24-17 JC loss) as we were leaving the field that it was his team now and he’s accepted that responsibility. He has every physical tool to be really, really good. He’s got a big arm, athleticism, great feet and he’s fast enough. He understands the game and has a high football IQ. Quaterius is a good football player.”
Freshman running back Romal Webb (Memphis, Tennessee) rushed 11 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore wide receiver Markel McLaurin (Collins) had six catches for 120 yards and a score.
“I thought offensively we played well, but we did not capitalize on scoring opportunities,” Buckley said. “We’ve got to finish drives.”
On defense, the Bobcats allowed 369 yards of offense, including 282 yards through the air, but kept the Warriors out of the end zone.
Sophomore linebacker DeLawrence Butler (Clinton) led the team with 10 tackles. Freshman defensive back Jodie Williams (Holmes County Central) and sophomore linebacker Mike Cockream (Ray Brooks) had nine stops each. Defensive back Hershey McLaurin (Collins) had three tackles, one pass interception, one pass breakup and returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. He was named the MACCC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
“Defensively, I thought we had some eye violations on the back end early with the play action stuff,” Buckley said. “We had all freshmen in the back end and (East Central) Coach (Ken) Karcher and his staff do a great job. They knew we were young back there and they got our eyes open really quick. But I thought we settled in and we only gave up three points. We had a little bend, don’t break attitude.”
Jones only punted twice for a 30.0 yards per kick average and was 2-of-4 on field goal attempts. The Bobcats were only penalized one time for five yards.
“I thought the kicking game was solid, but we’ve got to make some field goals we missed,” Buckley said. “To go through a game like that and score points and not let them score many points and not have many penalties – I think that’s a big plus.”
The Bobcats had a bye week after the opening game. Buckley said the team used that time to better themselves and have concentrated on Hinds this week.
“At first, I didn’t like that,” he said of the open date. “But after the game, I did like it because it gave us three days to work on us. We practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week before the hurricane was supposed to come in and we got a lot of work done we needed to get done just to clean some things up.
“We spent a lot of time in the red zone this week. We’ve got to capitalize on things. We had some long drives last week and came away with no points and that’s discouraging. You work your tail off to get to that point and you need to finish the deal. I just didn’t think we finished. We have to finish drives.”
Buckley said the first road game of a season is always a test and this year will be no different because of the youth of the Bobcat football team.
“This will be a great challenge for us Thursday night, especially with it being the first time we take this bunch on the road,” he said. “We have 43 new kids who have never been on a bus with us and everybody takes that for granted. It’s a little bit different than walking down the street to the stadium and playing here.”
The Bobcats have won four straight vs. the Eagles and lead the series, 52-37-4.
Jones will be on the road next week when they visit Southwest for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 22.
Hinds is scheduled to host Southwest on Oct. 29 in its next contest.