Admirals sail past winless Maroon Tide in Gulfport

Published 8:02 am Saturday, September 12, 2015

By Jeff Clark

Special to the Sun Herald

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GULFPORT— Gulfport jumped out to an early start on offense en-route to a 35-14 victory over Picayune at Milner Stadium Friday night.

The win is the first for the Admirals (2-2) since an opening night 28-20 victory over St. Stanislaus.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game against Picayune,” Admirals Coach Eddie Pierce said. “Our guys did a good job and played well. We have a week off before we open division play at home. This is a good way for us to go into division play.”

Gulfport won the game on the night that the late Ross Langston, the school’s longtime athletic trainer, was honored with a memorial ceremony between the first and second quarters.

The Admirals scored on their first drive on a 41-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Larazzo Shugart, giving Gulfport a 7-0 lead with a point-after kick by sophomore Cain Suddith.

Shugartadded a 50-yard TD run late in the second quarter with a 74-yard TD run from senior running back Deon Cole, giving the Admirals a 21-7 halftime lead. 

Cole and Shugart contributed to an offense that rushed for 284 yards of 416 total yards.

Junior quarterback Rhodes Walker was 5-for-7 for 132 yards and two passing touchdowns.

Late in third quarter, the Admirals converted on fourth and long when Walker hit junior Sean Daniels for a 33-yard TD reception. Walker helped put the game out of reach for the Maroon Tide late in the fourth quarter when he connected with senior Alton Conerly for a 74-yard TD pass, giving the Admirals the 35-14 lead.

Picayune (0-3) was able to briefly tie the game during the first play of the second quarter when Maroon Tide when junior running back Josh Littles hit the end zone on a 9-yard run. Sophomore VJ Holt also scored a rushing TD for the Maroon Tide on a 4-yard run in the third quarter.

Although Picayune was not able to get into the end zone but twice, the Maroon Tide managed to make 65 plays and put up 321 yards in total offense.

“Picayune keeps punching you in the mouth,” Pierce said. “They kept getting those short runs and getting four or five years here and there. They played a lot better ball than what was on the scoreboard. They are a well-coached team.”

The Maroon Tide had 25 first downs while the Admirals had 13 first downs on 39 plays. Picayune also out rushed the Admirals by one yard — 285 to 284 — thanks to strong performances from Holt, Littles and junior Blake Merrifield.

The Admirals will host division foes St. Martin for its homecoming game on Sept. 25. 

The Maroon Tide entertains Harrison Central next Friday.