ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College head coach Steve Buckley knows his Bobcats are in for a challenge as they make the long road trip to Clarksdale this week to battle Coahoma.
"They have done a great job with their roster," Buckley said of the Tigers. "I watched last year's game (a 38-6 JCJC win) and compared personnel to this year and that staff has done a great job. They have done a tremendous job of improving their roster. They had a similar situation to what we did coming in over a year ago and changing the roster."
The Bobcats enter the game at 1-1 following a 51-10 victory over Mississippi Delta.
Coahoma is also 1-1. The Tigers won at Southwest 35-20 in their season opener and dropped a 34-6 decision at home to No. 13 Copiah-Lincoln last week.
Kickoff for Thursday's game is at 7 p.m. There will be an audiocast available at www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley on the call.
In last week's win over MDCC, the Trojans had a 66-yard drive for a field goal to start the game and an 80-yard drive for a touchdown at the end of the game. In between, the Bobcats only allowed six yards of total offense.
Buckley was pleased with the effort.
"The message to the team was very simple that week – we need to focus on us," he said. "In that ballgame, we wanted to start fast. I thought the defense responded, even on that initial drive. We gave up some slant routes, just playing outside leverage and not getting inside.
"But after that, we settled downed defensively and played very, very well. I think they had five yards rushing on the night. We had them in so many third and long yardage situations, it was incredible. We kept them behind the chains all night and I think that's one of the things our defense does well."
Linebacker Jordyn Bowlin (Starkville) had a solid, all-around game for the Bobcats with four tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. Defensive back Jalon Scott (Perry Central) had five tackles and an interception, while defensive back Jonathan Haynes (Ray Brooks) had five tackles. Linebacker Rayshon Marcel (Moss Point) had four tackles and two sacks, while linebacker Emanuel Barber (Chicago, Illinois) had three tackles and one sack. Defensive tackle Dashawn Crawford (Bay Springs) had two tackles and two tackles for loss and end Brandon Young (West Jones) had a tackle and three tackles for loss.
"Jordyn showed up a lot," Buckley said. "He played great on special teams and he was very active in our defensive scheme and made a lot of plays for us. But it starts up front and I think our young kids continue to improve each week."
On offense, running back DeShawn Smith (Brooksvile, Florida) had six carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns and running back Scott Phillips (South Jones) rushed 11 times for 53 yards and two scores. Running back Rashaud Green (Bassfield) had five carries for 32 yards and a score.
Quarterback Chris Weaver (Bay Minette, Alabama) was 8-of-11 for 124 yards and a touchdown and wide receiver Davis Harrison (Lamar School) threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Chancie Tidwell (Clinton) on a 'double pass' play. Wide receiver Harry Ballard (Florissant, Missouri) had three catches for 97 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown.
"I've said since DeShawn has been here that he is an explosive football player," Buckley said. "He and Kendall Parham (Oak Grove) are the two most explosive players on our offensive side. I think it kind of gave you a glimpse of DeShawn's future. DeShawn can run the football. He has great vision, incredible speed and is a power runner for a little guy. I thought he had a great first half.
"Offensively, our two goals were to take care of the football and stay in front of the chains. I think in the first half we had one play behind the chains and it was just a misread by the quarterback on the goal line where he should have handed the ball off."
Placekicker Mike Kroeze (Madison Central) made a 48-yard field goal and was 6-of-7 on extra points.
"That was very big," Buckley said of Kroeze's lengthy field goal. "Michael lost a little focus when he missed the extra point. You just can't do that. And then he kicks the ball out of bounds on the next kickoff. I was glad to see him get the opportunity from 48 yards and I think it would have been good from 55. He really hit it good and it has to help his confidence and our confidence in him, knowing where his distance is."
Overall, Buckley said the Bobcats did a good job.
"From an execution standpoint in all three phases of the game, I thought we executed as well as we have since we have been here as a staff," he said. "Like I said, the whole focus was to focus on us and improve from week one to week two and I thought we did that."
Now, the Bobcats turn their attention to Coahoma.
The Tigers are led by running back Josh Johnson (5-11, 215) of Opelika, Alabama. Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards in each of CCC's first two games and has 229 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Trey Mitchell (6-4, 224) of Knoxville, Tennessee, has completed 29-of-56 passes for 478 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. Chris Claybrooks (6-0, 185) of Nashville, Tennessee, has 11 catches for 197 yards through two games.
"They have excellent skill guys," Buckley said. "They have three receivers that can really take the top off of it. Their quarterback is a solid player. He does not make many mistakes, has a quick release and a strong arm."
On defense, linebacker Cecil Cherry (6-2, 225) of Frostproof, Florida, tops Coahoma with 21 tackles and an interception. He is a transfer from South Florida.
"They are talented on the back end on defense with a lot of great athletes," Buckley said.
This will mark the longest road trip of the year for Jones. Buckley is interested to see how the Bobcats will fare.
"We are going on the road and that's part of it," he said. "We have to respond like we did from week one to week two going from week two to week three. The difference is that we will be traveling."
The Bobcats open MACJC South Division play at home next week with Sept. 21 game against Copiah-Lincoln. The 7 p.m. game will air on www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley and Chris Robinson on the call.
Coahoma begins MACJC North Division play at Holmes on Sept. 21.
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director