Wolves use stronger second half effort to top Pearl River 33-9 in Wesson

Published 2:15 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

It was another type of game where the Copiah-Lincoln Wolves found a way to grind out a win on Thursday against Pearl River.

The no. 10 ranked Wolves (6-1) trailed 9-0 early but didn’t give up another point the rest of the way in earning a 33-9 win over the Wildcats (0-7).

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After a huge win last week on the road at previously unbeaten Mississippi Gulf Coast, the goal for CLCC and coach Glenn Davis is to win out in the final round MACCC South Division games against Pearl River, East Central and Hinds.

That goal looked in danger early as PRCC pinned Co-Lin on its own 1-yard line on the Wolves’ first possession, which led to a safety that put PRCC up 2-0.

The Wildcats kept their momentum going by getting a rushing touchdown to jump ahead 9-0 with 3:43 left in the first quarter to finish up the drive following the safety.

Pearl River and their head coach Seth Smith keep the ball on the ground maybe more than any other team in the MACCC and can put together long, meticulous drives when their offense is clicking.

What the Wildcats don’t have is a ball carrier as dynamic toting the rock as Co-Lin sophomore Johnnie Daniels.

Daniels has been a playmaker all season for the Co-Lin offense and on Thursday, the Crystal Springs alum scored the first touchdown of the night for his team in thrilling fashion.

Daniels burst through the first level of the Pearl Rive defense and bounced off a few attempted tackles by PRCC linebackers. Off-balance, but still on his feet, Daniels hit a turbo boast that took him right past a pair of diving defensive backs.

Tight roping the sideline for a moment, Daniels turned back towards the middle of the field and ended in the endzone on a 54-yard touchdown run.

The score remained a 9-7 lead for Pearl River at halftime as the Wildcats missed a 31-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.

The first drive of the third quarter was a chance for the CLCC offense to show that they can move the ball vertically. Sophomore quarterback DeVon Tott (Mandeville, La.) hit wideout Carlos Martin (Laurel High) for a 32-yard gain down to the Pearl River 32-yard line.

On the next play, Tott connected with Jaylen Smith (Jacksonville, Fla.) for another 32-yard gain, this one a touchdown that put Co-Lin ahead for the first time and ahead for good, 14-9.

Later in the third quarter, Co-Lin got a safety and like Pearl River did following the safety in the first quarter, the Wolves scored on the drive after getting the ball back via a free kick.

Freshman running back Tray Minor (Natchez High) finished that drive off with a 5-yard scoring run.

The third quarter scoring continued later with a 36-yard field goal by Brandon Gilliam of CLCC.

The final Co-Lin touchdown of the game came in an untraditional way as Tott connected with tight end Tyler Fortenberry (Brookhaven Academy), who fumbled the ball on a hit by a Pearl River defender after gaining two yards.

Co-Lin wide receiver O’Ryan James (Houma, La.) scooped up the fumble and sprinted 22-yards for the touchdown with 7:38 remaining in the game.

Pearl River held possession for nearly 10 minutes longer than Co-Lin on the night, but only went 4-of-16 on third down conversion attempts as most of their runs were of the short variety.

The Wildcats ran the ball 46 times, averaging 3.0 yards per rush as they finished the night with 137 net yards on the ground and just 205 yards of total offense.

The Wolves didn’t put up huge numbers offensively but did get 142 yards passing and 24 yards rushing from Tott. Daniels averaged 7.1 yards per carry and gained 99 yards on the ground.

Richard Mays Jr., a Southern Miss transfer who prepped at Ridgeland, played wide receiver for Co-Lin on Thursday and made one catch for nine yards. May hadn’t made a catch since suffering an injury in the season opening win over East Mississippi.

The Co-Lin defense got another outstanding effort from Jahron Manning, a native of New Orleans who prepped at Brother Martin. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound Manning is listed as a defensive back, but he’s a versatile player that defensive coordinator Matt Gordon can move all over the field.

Manning made a team best eight tackles and snagged an interception. Defensive back Kaden Dukes (Petal High) is another player from the secondary who was able to stay around the line of scrimmage with Pearl River mostly running the ball.

Dukes had eight tackles and two tackles for a loss. Wesson product Collin McGowan had six tackles, one that went for a loss.

In other MACCC action played on Thursday, Holmes topped Mississippi Delta 58-6, Mississippi Gulf Coast held off East Central 28-24, Itawamba topped Hinds 26-14 and Northwest Mississippi rolled Coahoma 55-7.

Next up in Wesson, it’s homecoming with tough East Central (3-4) team visiting for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.