Gulf Coast upsets Pearl River

Published 2:27 pm Friday, September 14, 2007

It took an unusual five interceptions for Pearl River Community College to throw away its number one national ranking Thursday night.

The Wildcats of head coach Tim Hatten never got their normally high-powered offense in sync, as the top-ranked Wildcats fell to sixth-ranked homestanding and arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast 24-17 at A.L. May Stadium.

Pearl River turned the ball over six times, and also had to recover a fumble in its own end zone to avoid a seventh in the loss.

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“Overall, it was a pretty embarrassing night to be a Pearl River Wildcat,” Hatten, who has guided the Wildcats to four straight juco state titles as well as a national title three years ago, said. “The first half may have been the worst offensive game we have played since I have been here, and probably the ugliest half I have ever been associated with. We deserved to lose.”

Mississippi Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell was proud of his team’s effort.

“They were ranked number one in the nation, and we wanted to prove we could play with anybody,” Campbell added. “I think we did that tonight.”

Pearl River took an early 3-0 lead thanks to a 42-yard field goal by Brad Bingham, but the highlights were few and far between for PRCC after that.

Gulf Coast’s Sean Brachule tied the contest with a kick from the same distance early in the second period, and then the safety recorded by the Bulldogs on a big hit that caused the fumble put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 5-3.

“We didn’t play very well, and I would almost like to refund all the money for the fans that came to the game,” Hatten added. “It’s embarrassing how we played. We just didn’t do a very good job.”

Gulf Coast took a 12-3 lead when Trey Hopson ran for a 13-yard touchdown just before halftime, but not all was lot for PRCC at that point.

Wildcat defensive back Josh Wiley scooped up a fumble by Gulf Coast running back James Abraham and dashed 24 yards for a score with just over two minutes to go before intermission making it 12-10 at halftime.

But Gulf Coast running back Donovan Washington capped the opening drive of the second half for the Bulldogs with a 7 yard touchdown run to make it 19-10 Bulldogs.

Bubba Kirksey pulled the Wildcats to 19-17 with a short scoring run later in the frame, but another safety off a bad snap by the Wildcats as well as a 43-yard field goal by Brachule ended the scoring and sealed the win.

“We’ve had some good times here and some bad times, and this was one of the worst,” Hatten concluded. “We have got to pick up the pieces and keep working and try and be competitive again, and I think we can do that. We have some uncertainties that we have to make decisions on and it’s my job to do that.”

Pearl River hosts Co-Lin on Thursday.