Eagles prep for Bears

Published 12:32 pm Friday, October 15, 2010

Hinds Community College got a big shot in the arm last week and is looking to take that momentum into Saturday’s 1 p.m. home contest against Southwest Community College.

The Eagles came back to beat Jones County Junior College 27-23 in Ellisville. The win put the Eagles (4-2, 1-2 MACJC South Division) back in the playoff hunt.

Hinds can clinch a winning season with a win over the Bears (2-4, 0-3 South Division). To do so, the Eagles will need a similar effort like they had against Jones said Hinds coach Gene Murphy.

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“This team has shown that we have character. We did not play well for a half against Mississippi Delta, but we came back and made plays in the second half and in overtime. That’s been our struggle this year — to get guys to play hard from beginning to end. Against Jones, we played four quarters,” Murphy said.

Three weeks ago, against Mississippi Delta at home, Hinds trailed 14-3 at the half. The Eagles turned the game around in the second half by blocking a field goal and returning it for a score. They later got a 72-yard punt return from Deon Anthony for another touchdown to take a 24-14 lead. Delta wound up tying the game at 31 to force overtime, but Maxie Graham’s 77-yard fumble return in the first series of overtime gave the Eagles a 37-31 win.

Hinds is paced on offense by running back Matthew Willis of Puckett, who is averaging 127.3 yards per game rushing. Opening holes up front is two former Warren Central Vikings, tackle Danny Bunch and guard John Gustavis.

“We just need to come out and play hard on every down,” Gustavis said.

Quarterback Anthony Sheppard provides balance, completing 88 of 157 passes for 1,349 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Two Warren County products — sophomores Cordell Valentine and Les Lemons — are two of Sheppard’s

primary targets. Valentine, who prepped at Warren Central, has 10 catches for 281 yards and three TDs. Lemons, a Vicksburg High product, has 22 receptions for 226 yards and one score.

Southwest is led by quarterback Mardavian Martin with 472 yards passing and another 443 yards rushing. Tray Batest has rushed for 367 yards this season.

Graham keys the Hinds defense with 63 tackles while 6-foot-6, 280-pound Leon Mackey is one of the most highly sought after defensive ends in the country.