BILOXI, MS—In a clash between two of the NJCAA’S top 10 teams, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College used it’s patented running game to stampede past Blinn 46-17 to win the Mississippi Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons.
The No. 9 Bulldogs (10-2) scored 39 unanswered points against the No. 5 Buccaneers (9-2) to turn a close game midway through the second quarter into a blowout.
“Winning the Mississippi Bowl is our goal every season,” said Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell, whose team played in their fifth straight bowl game and sixth in the last seven seasons. “We had something to prove today, and the guys had a tremendous week of practice and took care of an outstanding Blinn team.”
Blinn’s Kurt Walker connected on a 35-yard field goal to open the scoring in the first quarter, while Gulf Coast had two drives result in missed field goals by kicker Taylor Pontius.
With 7:57 left in the first half Gulf Coast converted on a fourth down as James Gillum bullied his way 8 yards for the game’s first touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
Blinn answered with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Eric Matthews to Jacob Bennett to take their last lead at 10-7.
From there, the Bulldogs converted six Blinn turnovers into four touchdowns and blew open the contest.
“Cashing in on their turnovers was huge for us,” said Bulldog sophomore Alonzo Lawrence, who had two interceptions for Gulf Coast. “This class won 20 games in two seasons, I think that’s pretty good.”
It was also a coming out party for Gulf Coast sophomore quarterback Raymond Cotton, who began 2011 as the team’s starting quarterback but lost his job after suffering an upper repertory illness. Cotton began the Bulldog onslaught with a 47-yard TD run to put Gulf Coast in front for good at 14-10.
An interception led to a 28-yard scoring pass from Cotton to Javon Bell making it 21-10 at halftime.
The Bulldogs got a 7-yard TD run by Cotton and a 39-yard field goal by Taylor Pontius to make it 31-10 after three quarters.
Cotton and Bell hooked up again on a 40-yard touchdown pass and Gillum scored his second TD from a yard out. The Bulldogs got a two-point conversion to make it 46-10.
Both teams then let their emotions get carried away as a scuffle between Blinn’s Tyler Edwards and Gulf Coast lineman Adrian Dinkins let to both players being ejected and both benches emptying. However, order was restored and Blinn got a late 14-yard TD run from Brelyn Sorrels to en the scoring at 46-17.
Gulf Coast racked up 453 total yards, 298 coming on the ground. The Bulldog defense held Blinn, an offense that averaged 513 total yards per game, to 267 total.
Raymond Cotton rushed for 107 yards and 2 TD’S and went 7-for-12 for 135 yards and 2 scores.
“It’s been a tough year for Raymond, but he was great today,” Campbell said. “This is what we expected from him all season. He proved what a special player he is in this game.”
James Gillum rushed for 109 yards and 2 scores while Javon Bell caught 7 balls for 118 yards and 2 TD’S.
Aside from losing two games to eventual NJCAA Nation Champion East Mississippi, the Bulldogs made it another successful season in 2011.
“This was our last chance to play together,” said Gulf Coast sophomore center Dylan Holley. “We’re going our separate ways after this, so we wanted to make this game special.”