By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
The Pearl River Central Blue Devils, ranked No. 5 in the state, beat in a district clash the East Central Hornets 28-7 before a Homecoming crowd in Shirley Stadium Friday night.
The win pushed the Blue Devils to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in Region 4-5A play.
The East Central clash was the Blue Devils’ second district game so far, the first being the Picayune encounter on Sept. 21.
PRC hosts West Harrison, in another district clash, on Friday for Homecoming. The game starts at 7 p.m.
The Blue Devils, under third-year head coach Eric Collins, who has completely turned the PRC program around, had little trouble dispatching the Hornets. Collins was worried about the game, however, describing the Hornets as “scrappy” when played at home.
But the Devils had little trouble dispatching the Hornets, although Collins said he was not pleased with the Devil second-half performance. “We were sloppy in the second half,” he said in post-game comments.
PRC scored once in the first quarter and three times in the second period, to carry a 28-0 lead into the half-time break, and the Hornets tacked on a late fourth-quarter score to round out the scoring for the night.
The Devil defense literally stuffed the Hornet offense in the first half. At one point the Hornets had a minus 44 rushing, but later gradually climbed out of the hole in the second half to post a plus yardage.
Devil kicker Javon Detto hit four PATs but missed two field goal attempts, one from 34 yards out and another from 30.
PRC got its first score with 3:45 left in first-quarter action on a one-yard plunge by running back Desmond Michel, capping a 32-yard drive after the Devils got great field position on a Hornet punt. Fullback Steven Kubicki rolled off 12 yards, and Michel covered the last 20 yards to paydirt on three straight carries.
PRC’s second TD came on a 19-yard dash by wingback Garret Duplechain on the first play of the second period.
Next Kubicki scored PRC’s third TD with 8:31 left in the second period on a two-yard plunge after the TD was set up on a 38-yard connection between QB Dylan Spiers and receiver and backup QB Terek Whitehead.
Next Duplechain got his second TD of the night and scored the Devil last and fourth TD on a five-yard run with 1:57 left in first-half action. The play was set up when Hornet QB Justin Plummer was sacked and fumbled, and Devil end Lance Fazende pounced on the loose ball on the Hornet 10.
Duplechain’s second score rounded out the Devil scoring for the night. The Devils scored all their points in the first half.
The Hornets managed to put together a 70-yard, 11-play drive late in the fourth period that was capped on a one-yard plunge for a TD by running back Jake Eaker. Kicker Dylan Wheeler’s kick for the PAT was good, giving the Hornets its only points of the night.
Said Collins in post-game comments: “We played well in the first half, but in the second we just made one mistake after another. We were sloppy in the second half. We are fortunate to come out with a win and we are happy with it.”
Collins added, “Anytime you go on the road and beat East Central at home it’s a good win, because it is hard to win here.”
Said Collins, “Next week we play West Harrison, and we had better have all the points covered.”
The Hornet loss left Hornet head coach Marcus High 1-4 overall and 0-2 in district play. High is in his fifth year at East Central.
Churning out the major yardage for PRC was Kubicki with 13 carries for 58 yards, Duplechain six carries for 50 yards and Desmond Michel 11 carries for 54 yards. Michel and Kubicki got one TD each and Duplechain scored two TDs.