PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby McDuffie/JUCO Weekly
POPLARVILLE — The 96th battle between archrivals Gulf Coast and Pearl River was as feisty as expected, and the Bulldogs left here with a 30-7 win Saturday to spoil the Wildcats' homecoming.
"It was a hard-fought game," Gulf Coast coach Jack Wright said. "The score really doesn't indicate the intensity and effort both sides have."
The Bulldogs (6-2, 3-2 MACJC South) remain mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but will need to beat Hinds in Perkinston next Saturday on homecoming and get some help in other regular-season finales.
Gulf Coast streaked out to a 20-0 lead by scoring touchdowns on its first three drives. Terrion Avery (So., Stone/Wiggins) and Omni Wells (Fr., Moss Point/Moss Point) scored on short touchdown runs, and Chance Lovertich (Fr., Jackson Prep/Brandon) threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Sedevyn Gray (So., Puckett/Puckett).
Then the interception bug hit the Bulldogs. They threw picks on three of their next five possessions, and Pearl River got its score early in the second half after an interception gave the Wildcats the ball at the Gulf Coast 5-yard line.
"We had some rough times with the interceptions, but it was a battle," said Gulf Coast offensive lineman Nick Dunomes (So., Gulfport/Gulfport). "We kicked butt in that second half. We just ran it down their throats. That felt amazing."
The Bulldogs answered Pearl River's longest drive of the night, a 14-play, 85-yarder that ended in a missed field goal, with its longest. Seventeen plays later, Mason Hunt (So., Stone/Wiggins) kicked a 31-yard field goal for some breathing room.
The Gulf Coast defense forced three turnovers of its own and held the Wildcats to eight first downs and 130 total yards.
"It was pretty exciting," said defensive lineman Jamie Sheriff (Fr., Terry/Terry). "It's one of my first times in an environment like this. The crowd was really into it. We had a lot of fun during the game."
Gulf Coast kicks off against Hinds (4-4, 2-3) next Saturday at 2 p.m., wrapping up Homecoming Week activities.
"They're a qualify south division opponent," Wright said. "It will be another battle. They've got some big kids on the O-line and D-line. They'll be strong and physical, and we'll have our work cut out for us."
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