52-7 thrashing of Pearl River makes it back-to-back state titles for Bulldogs
PERKINSTON—A 52-7 pounding of archrival Pearl River, a trip to the first ever Mississippi Bowl, and back-to-back MACJC state titles…it doesn’t get much better than this for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
On a perfect fall day in Perkinston, Gulf Coast jumped all over Pearl River and turned what was predicted to be a tough battle into a perfect storm of football that the Wildcats couldn’t survive. The win earns Gulf Coast (9-2) its second straight MACJC state title and a trip to the Mississippi Bowl Dec. 7 in Biloxi. It’s the first time since 1966-67 that the Bulldogs have won back-to-back state championships.
“I’m very proud of this team,” said Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell, who’s now 40-11 in five seasons at the helm, including a 2007 NJCAA Co-National Championship, two MACJC state titles, and three MACJC South Division crowns. “This team has been resilient. They’ve worked extremely hard, gotten better every week, and peaked today.”
Gulf Coast was in sync early as running back Earvin Moore blasted in from 4 yards out to make it 7-0 with 5:29 to go in the first quarter.
The Bulldog defense came up with a big play in the second quarter when All-American linebacker Chris White scooped up a Pearl River fumble and went 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 Bulldogs.
After a 31-yard run by freshman Vic Ballard, Greg Jenkins hit Kelvin Bolden on a beautiful 30-yard touchdown hook-up to make it 21-0 with 8:11 to go in the half. Bolden finished the game with three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
“Our offensive line was pushing them back pretty good,” said Jenkins.”That opened up a lot of plays for us.”
The onslaught continued late in the first half, as Ballard scored on a nifty 32-yard scamper to the end zone to make it 28-0 Bulldogs at halftime. The freshman from Pascagoula rushed for 71 yards and two scores against Pearl River.
The Wildcats (8-3) got their lone touchdown in the third quarter, as quarterback Emil Jones hooked up with Jerry Duncan on a 58-yard touchdown cutting the Gulf Coast lead to 28-7. Other than that score, the Bulldog defense shut down the Wildcats, forcing four turnovers and sacking Jones 5 times.
“We figured out the weaknesses in their offensive line,” said Gulf Coast defensive lineman Malcolm Tatum. “All this success came from hard work. It feels good. There’s nothing like it.”
The Bulldogs answered the Pearl River score with Ballard’s second touchdown, a 1-yard plunge. The score was set up by a 19-yard pass from Jenkins to Jamal Young.
All-American kicker Sean Brauchle’s 28-yard field goal increased the lead to 38-7 with 2:21 to go in the third.
In the fourth quarter, a Brandon Johnson 5-yard score and a Jonathan DeFlanders 2-yard TD capped off the scoring for Gulf Coast.
“It feels awesome,” said Gulf Coast tight end Kevin Helms. “We scored on that first drive and owned them the rest of the game. It feels great.”
The Bulldogs will now wait for the Mississippi Bowl committee to select its opponent for the Dec. 7 game in Biloxi.
“I’ve been blessed to be around some outstanding football teams,” Campbell said. “This football team is as special as any I’ve ever coached.”