Gulf Coast beats PRCC

Published 6:47 am Sunday, November 9, 2008


Item Sports Editor

PERKINSTON – Both Gulf Coast and Pearl River came into Saturday’s juco state championship game ranked as two of the top teams in the nation.

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The homestanding Bulldogs, though, made it perfectly clear who the best team in the state was for the second straight season.

Gulf Coast ran roughshod over the visiting Wildcats, dominating throughout en route to a convincing 52-7 win. The Bulldogs have now won three straight in this rivalry and four of the last six games.

The win gave the seventh ranked Bulldogs (9-2) consecutive state titles for the first time in over two decades. And although Gulf Coast won’t get a chance to defend the national championship it shared with Butler (Kan.) last seson, the win earns head coach Steve Campbell’s team a berth in the first ever Mississippi Bowl set for Biloxi on Dec. 7th.

“This team has really come together over the past month or so,” Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell, whose team beat PRCC 10-3 in the regular season, said. “We played well today in all three phases of the game. I think we are playing our best football of the season right now.”

Pearl River head coach Tim Hatten, who suffered his worst defeat in his seven years at the helm of the Wildcats, was in no position to argue.

“The wheels kind of fell off early for us,” Hatten, whose 10th-ranked team finished 8-3, said. “They were the better team today without a doubt. There has been a lot of days over the past seven years when it was good to be a Wildcat. Today wasn’t one of them.”

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead and were ever seriously threatened.

Jamal Young got Gulf Coast on the scoreboard early, thanks to a 2-yard scoring plunge. Young would later crack the 1,000 yard mark for the season.

The first score came thanks to a crucial penalty on PRCC, which was flagged for too many men on the field on a Bulldog punt allowing Gulf Coast to maintain possession.

“That gave us some momentum that we were able to carry over,” Cambell said.

Another momentum changing play came early in the second period, when Gulf Coast linebacker Chris White scooped up a fumble by Wildcat quarterback Emil Jones and raced 45 yards for a touchdown.

“We made mistakes and gave them some great opportunities,” Hatten, whose team won four straight state titles from 2003-2006, said. “And we were really never able to get anything going offensively.”

Bulldog quarterback Cedric Jenkins then got rolling on the next series, as he hit Kelvin Bolden on a 30-yard scoring strike putting Gulf Coast in command at 21-0.

The Wildcats then drove deep into Bulldog territory in an attempt to stay in the game, only to fumble the ball away at the Gulf Coast 23 with 1:52 to play before halftime.

The Bulldogs wasted no time in extending their lead before the half, as Jenkins hit Bolden on a 45 yard completion to the Wildcat 23 and Vic Ballard covered that distance on the next play.

Pearl River got its only score early in the third, when Jones hit Jerry Duncan on a 58-yard touchdown toss to cut the deficit to 28-7.

But Gulf Coast retalliated, as Ballard came right back to score on a 6 yard run after another Jones fumble.

Bulldog kicker Sean Brauchle, who was seven for seven on extra point tries, hit a 28-yard field goal with two minutes left in the third frame to make it 38-7.

Brandon Johnson and Jonathan Deflanders added scoring runs for the Bulldogs in the final period.

“Our defense was just as big today as our offense was,” Campbell added. “The pressure they put on Jones and the turnovers they caused were very key. And then our offense took advantage of it.”

The Bulldogs forced five turnovers in the win.

Gulf Coast should find out who its opponent will be for the postseason game sometime within the next week.