#2 East Miss. claws past #5 MGCCC 42-17 for MACJC title

35 point second half avalanche dooms Bulldogs

MGCCC’S Willie Burrows (20) corrals East Mississippi’s J.J. Harbin (4) Nov. 12.

SCOOBA, Ms—Things got ugly in a hurry for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College as undefeated East Mississippi scored 35 unanswered points and turned a 17-7 deficit into a convincing 42-17 victory in the 2011 MACJC Championship. The #2 ranked Lions (11-0) won their second MACJC crown in the last three seasons and also put themselves in position to compete for the NJCAA National title.

MGCCC’S James Gillum plows for nine of his 116 yards rushing vs. East Miss. Nov. 12.

The Bulldogs (9-2), the 2010 MACJC champs, saw their nine-game winning streak snapped after reaching the MACJC title game for the fifth straight season.

“We held them off as long as we could,” said Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell, who’s now 3-3 in MACJC title games and 2-4 against East Miss. since 2008. “East Miss. is a great football team. Our guys played extremely hard. We gave ourselves a chance for a long time, but then the dam broke.”

Gulf Coast led 17-7 with 11:08 to go in the third quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run by Reggie Matthews. From that point on, the Bulldogs missed two field goals and turned the ball over twice while the Lions got three touchdown passes from quarterback Bo Wallace…two to Lacoltan Bester and one to Rodriguez Moore. Add another TD run by Moore and a 40-yard interception return by Jeremy Cannon, and a close game turned into a one-sided affair.

“We moved the ball well, but we had some red zone problems,” Campbell said. “That’s why they’re (East Miss.) #2 in the country.”

The Lions got on the board first on a 38-yard TD pass from Wallace to Bester making it 7-0 with 10:12 left in the first quarter. Gulf Coast answered on its ensuing possession with a 25-yard TD pass from Clint Hatten to Travonta Thomas to tie the game at 7-7.

A 22-yard field goal from Taylor Pontius extended the Bulldog lead to 10-7 in the second quarter. The Bulldogs then had a bad snap on a field goal attempt just before halftime, which proved to be a sign of things to come in the second half.

East Miss., which sports the NJCAA’S #1 offense, was led by quarterback Bo Wallace, who was 29-46 for 334 yards and four TD’S. Three of those scores went to Lacoltan Bester, who had nine grabs for 139 yards. One of those scores was a 24-yard catch on a desperation pass from Wallace to give the Lions the lead for good at 21-17 with 10:10 remaining in the contest.

Gulf Coast running back James Gillum rushed for 116 yards on 19 carries in the defeat.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs won their fifth MACJC South Division title in the last seven years and made it to the State championship game for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.

“Our guys played extremely hard,” Campbell added. We have a young group of guys that got better every game. We just came up short today against a very good team.”

East Miss. will either accept the automatic berth in the Mississippi Bowl on Dec. 4 in Biloxi or perhaps take on #1 Western Arizona for the NJCAA National Championship. If the Lions play Western Ariz., Gulf Coast would then be the host team in the Miss. Bowl. Official NJCAA bowl invitations go out Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.

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