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Co-Lin rolls over Pearl River

CO-LIN MEDIA / NATALIE DAVIS / Co-Lin running back Josh Bates (33) gets away from Pearl River defensive end Alvonte Bell (12) in South Division JUCO action Thursday night.

CO-LIN MEDIA / NATALIE DAVIS / Co-Lin running back Josh Bates (33) gets away from Pearl River defensive end Alvonte Bell (12) in South Division JUCO action Thursday night.

POPLARVILLE – The Copiah-Lincoln defense flexed their muscle on Thursday night in Poplarville as they slowed a high powered Pearl River offense in a convincing 20-9 Wolfpack win over the Wildcats.

Co-Lin (4-2, 2-1) was facing a Wildcat team that had previously scored 34 points in a win last week over Southwest. The Co-Lin defense didn’t allow a Pearl River (3-3, 1-3) score until 4:20 remained in the game.

The game, a must win for the playoff hopes of both teams, was sloppy in the first half with penalties and dropped passing preventing either team from establishing much rhythm.

Co-Lin broke through for their first score with 8:43 remaining in the first half when quarterback Daniel Fitzwater hit Koy McFarland for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Fitzwater was rolling left and launched a strike that McFarland was able to hold onto as he was sandwiched between defenders. Co-Lin would add a 22-yard field goal from Greg Nickles with five seconds remaining in the half and led 10-0 at the break.

CO-LIN MEDIA / NATALIE DAVIS / Co-Lin running back Diquan Davis (23) is tackled by Pearl River's Taron Divens.

CO-LIN MEDIA / NATALIE DAVIS / Co-Lin running back Diquan Davis (23) is tackled by Pearl River’s Taron Divens.

Nickles added another 22-yard FG in the third quarter and would also finish the night 2-for-2 on PAT attempts. Running back Joshua Bates provided the final Co-Lin score of the night when he powered in for a 9-yard rushing TD with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Leading 20-0, Co-Lin saw Pearl River jump back into the game on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Kaylon Cooper to Austin Watts. The Wildcats would ratchet up the pressure even tighter by recovering the ensuing onsides kick.

Co-Lin would get the ball back on the first play following the onside kick when cornerback Arthur Maulet picked off Cooper at the Wolfpack 7-yard line. Co-Lin would run three straight running plays from inside their 10-yard line and in doing so forced Pearl River to use all of their timeouts.

Rather than punt from their own end zone, Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis elected to have his punter, Trent Furr, step over the back line for a safety. The intentional safety cut the Co-Lin lead to 20-9, but only 2:49 remained in the game and Pearl River was out of timeouts.

Any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Maulet picked off Cooper again on the ensuing Pearl River drive. Co-Lin was then able to go to the victory formation and run out the clock.

Pearl River finished with 184 yards of total offense, after being held to 68 in the first half. The Wolfpack finished with 433 yards of offense including 284 passing yards on 21-of-33 attempts by Fitzwater. Wide receiver Donald Gray caught eight passes for 114 yards and De’Lance Turner rushed 10 times for 72 yards.

The Co-Lin defense held Pearl River to nine first downs and provided a steady and strong pass rush throughout the game. Zachary Williams had five tackles and a pass deflection. Demond Tucker made six tackles and recorded one sack. Defensive end Johnathan Calvin notched two sacks to go along with multiple QB hurries.

The Wolves return to action on Saturday, Oct. 11 when they host Hinds for a homecoming matchup in Wesson. The homecoming court presentation takes place in Stone Stadium at 2:30 followed by the game at 3 p.m.