RAYMOND — Mississippi Gulf Coast fought back from a pair of deficits to force overtime against Jones, but the Bulldogs season was finished by the fickle fate of penalty kicks in the MACJC championship game at Tom Shepherd Field.
Jones advanced after the game finished tied 2-2, winning the 4-3 on spot kicks.
"Obviously, we're disappointed, but not in the boys, just in the result," Gulf Coast coach Chris Handy said. "They worked hard under tough conditions. They battled and left everything out there for sure. Honestly, the result is disappointing, but I have nothing negative to say about their effort and their fight."
The teams played two matches in two days on a waterlogged field, then played through a torrential downpour through much of the second half which only made things worse.
Gulf Coast outshot Jones 29-16, forcing 12 saves. Isaiah Gore (Fr., Laurel/Laurel) stopped five shots for the Bulldogs, who finish the season 13-6-1.
Jones defended its state championship and heads to the Region 23 title game with a 12-4-1 mark.
The Bobcats opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Chris Dempsey curled in a shot against the far post, but Gulf Coast would equalize before halftime.
James Redmond (Fr., Oberschule Roter Sand/Bremen, Germany) cushioned a long through-ball deftly, nudged it around the keeper and poked it in in the 31st minute.
The Bulldogs fell behind again in the 60th minute and narrowly avoided playing the rest of the match with 10 men. Mack Russell picked up a yellow card protesting, then a second, but the referee said he was subbed out of the game after the first one and Gulf Coast continued at full strength.
Gulf Coast through the kitchen sink at Jones late, but didn't find a second tying goal until 3:12 were left in regulation. Central defender Chad Hudson (Fr., St. Patrick/Gulfport) picked the timeliest moment to score his first goal of the season when he pounced on a corner kick in the 6-yard box.
The Bulldogs outshot Jones 6-3 in the two 10-minute overtime periods, but by the second one, there was not much energy left in either team's spent legs.
Jones keeper Callum Harley not only saved two Gulf Coast penalties, but he also took the winning kick in the fifth round.
Handy will return a large portion of his roster next year, and he and his staff have been hitting the recruiting trail hard. After missing the playoffs last year, he made some changes, and more will be made this year.
"We've got to do a few things differently scheduling-wise to get ourselves some more training time," he said. "We've still got a young group that has room to grow. We'll work hard this offseason. To go from where we were last year to this point, a lot work went into it, and we'll put the same work to get this group better. We'll be back here in a year."
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