PERKINSTON — The national champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs placed two players on the NJCAA All-American team, which was announced Tuesday.
Safety Jackie Matthews was named to the First Team as a defensive back, and Chance Lovertich is on the Second Team. The duo helped lead Gulf Coast to a 12-0 record and a 24-13 win over No. 2 Lackawanna in the NJCAA Football Championship last week that earned Gulf Coast its fifth national championship.
Matthews is a sophomore from Pinson Valley High School in the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala. He famously stepped in at quarterback there after Bo Nix, who's now the quarterback at Auburn, was injured and led his team to the 2017 Alabama Class 6A state championship.
Now he's been rewarded for winning another title at the next level with a spot on the All-American team.
"It means a lot, but I think it's more of a team effort," Matthews said. "My coaches, the position they put me in, and my teammates for pushing me every day in practice makes it very special."
Matthews led Gulf Coast with six interceptions, fifth-most in the country. He also had 52 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and broke up three passes.
"He's the epitome of what we want our program to represent," Gulf Coast coach Jack Wright said. "He's a great football player. Not a good football player, a great football player. He has all the size, speed and athleticism anybody would want, but he's not a dimensions guy. He's just a great football player."
Lovertich won every game as a starter at Gulf Coast, going 18-0. He's famously 57-1 as a starter since his sophomore year at Jackson Prep. He completed 236-of-366 passes for 2,794 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He finished second in the NJCAA with a 64.5 percent completion rate.
"It means everything," Lovertich said. "It shows not only the hard work I put in, but the whole team put in. I'm well aware that this wouldn't be possible without everyone on the team, from the O-line, to the D-line, to the secondary, to the scout team players, to the running backs and the receivers. This is an award that wouldn't have been possible without all of them."
Lovertich broke the school record for total offense with 2,850 combined passing and rushing yards. He now holds the first and second spots on the MGCCC completion percentage list.
"The record speaks for itself: Undefeated. National champion," Wright said. "He's 18-0 as our starting quarterback at Gulf Coast. There's not enough superlatives to describe what he's meant to this program, getting it back on the national stage."
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