Pearl River stumbles at No. 5 Gulf Coast

Published 4:27 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

PERKINSTON, Miss. — Pearl River started strong but couldn’t see out Thursday’s rivalry matchup, falling at No. 5 Gulf Coast 33-10.

“I thought our defense played great and honestly I thought our offense moved the ball the whole first half. A couple turnovers hurt us,” Pearl River coach Seth Smith said. “You don’t want to ever lose, but unlike Delta I can live with this because we fought. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We knew it would take time. This is just another brick-by-brick. 

“We’re not going to pout. We can build off of this.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Pearl River’s defense set the tone early in the contest, forcing a three-and-out on MGCCC’s first drive. 

Luther Woullard II (Petal) picked off his first pass of the season to abruptly end MGCCC’s second possession. The Bulldogs (3-0 overall; 1-0 MACCC South) heaved a pass down the visitor’s sideline toward the end zone, but Woullard ranged over to his right from the safety position and plucked the pass out of the air.

Gulf Coast’s third possession ended with another punt. MGCCC broke through with 3:11 remaining in the quarter to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Wildcat offense began to find its stride in the second quarter. Highlighted by a 39-yard pass-and-catch from Bryce Wallace (Pulaski, Tenn.; Giles County) to Chris Holifield Jr. (Mobile, Ala.; Leflore), the Wildcats got on the scoreboard thanks to a 22-yard field goal from Michael Owens (Hattiesburg; Oak Grove).

The PRCC defense came up big once again on MGCCC’s next possession as Zach Jones (Hurley; East Central) pounced on a fumble to set up a short field. Owens’ field goal attempt later in the drive was blocked, however.

Gulf Coast extended its lead to 10-3 with 7:06 remaining in the half on a 39-yard field goal.

Pearl River (1-2; 0-1) looked like it was in business on its next possession. Wallace lobbed a pass over the middle of the defense to Qavonte Swanigan (Foxworth; West Marion). The PRCC receiver was knocked to the turf and while it initially looked like he was down, the referees ruled the play was a fumble.

Pearl River opened the second half with all of the momentum. Holifield took the first handoff of the half up the middle, and while he initially looked like he was going to be bottled up for a short loss, the speedy running back bounced outside to his right. Holifield picked up a couple blocks, hit the PRCC sideline and raced untouched 85 yards for a game-tying touchdown, knotting the game at 10-10.

Gulf Coast regained the lead two possessions later, capitalizing on a couple drive-prolonging penalties to score. The Bulldogs missed the PAT, however, and led 16-10 with 4:34 remaining in the third.

Following a PRCC punt, MGCCC found the end zone on its next possession, extending its lead to 23-10 with 52 seconds remaining in the quarter. 

Gulf Coast capped the night’s scoring with a field goal and touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcat offense turned in their best performance of the season in terms of yardage, collecting 412 overall. PRCC’s 412 also marks the most yardage MGCCC  has surrendered in 2021. The Wildcat QBs completed 9 of 19 passes for 137 yards and the backs rushed for a season-best 275 yards. Wallace finished 5-for-11 with 84 yards. Dustin Allison (Pass Christian) completed 4 of 8 passes for 53 yards.

Holifield had a breakout performance for PRCC, finishing with a team-high 132 yards on six carries. He also led PRCC’s receivers with three catches for 56 yards. Will Young (Hurley; East Central) rushed 10 times for 72 yards.

Pearl River returns home next Thursday for another MACCC South Division showdown against Copiah-Lincoln. Kickoff at Dobie Holden Stadium is at 7 p.m.

Tickets for all home games are available online at Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to secure their seat and beat the lines. Chairback tickets are $20. General admission tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the box office on gameday.

All Wildcat games are streamed for free at Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app. stores.