NJCAA powerhouses clash in Mississippi Bowl IV

#5 Blinn faces off against #9 MGCCC in 4th annual event

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

BILOXI—Two teams that have won a combined eight JUCO football titles will square off as #5 ranked Blinn (9-1) takes on #9 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (9-2) in Mississippi Bowl IV, which is set for Sunday, December 4, at 2 p.m. at Biloxi Indian Stadium.

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

“I think the fans are going to love this matchup,” said Ladd Taylor, Mississippi Bowl Committee Chair. “I think this will be an all-out battle between two teams rich in tradition and talent.”

This year’s event marks the first time that the MACJC Champion isn’t the host team. No. 2 ranked East Mississippi (11-0) won the 2011 MACJC title Nov. 12 in a 42-17 win over Gulf Coast. However, the Lions are heading to the Toro Bowl Dec. 3 to take on #1 Arizona Western (11-0) for the NJCAA National Championship.

“We totally understand that and support East Mississippi’s decision to play for a National Championship,” Taylor added.

The 2011 Mississippi Bowl features a Blinn college squad that began the 2011 season ranked #4 and then spent five weeks at No. 1 before dropping a 37-34 overtime decision to Tyler on Nov. 5. The Buccaneers won NJCAA titles in 1995, 1996, 2006, and 2009, with the last National title coming thanks to the quarterbacking of Cam Newton, who went on to lead Auburn to the 2011 BCS National Championship and who’s currently the starting QB of the NFL’S Carolina Panthers.

Gulf Coast opened 2011 as the NJCAA’S #2 ranked team but lost twice to East Miss. The Bulldogs won their fifth MACJC South Division title in the last seven seasons in 2011 and have also made five straight trips to the MACJC Championship Game. The Bulldogs are also four time JUCO National Champions, with titles in 1948, 1971, 1984, and 2007. Much like Blinn, the Gulf Coast 2007 National Championship featured nose guard Terrence Cody, who went on to help lead Alabama to the 2010 BCS National Championship before becoming a starter for the NFL’S Baltimore Ravens.

“The NFL and NCAA Division I teams have greatly benefitted from the tremendous athletes that both Blinn and Gulf Coast have put out,” Taylor said. “The pedigrees are there, and the tradition is there with both colleges.”

The Blinn-Gulf Coast matchup continues the Mississippi Bowl’s string of NJCAA top 10 teams doing battle. The inaugural 2008 game featured #4 Georgia Military College and #5 Gulf Coast, in 2009 it was #5 Arizona Western and #6 East Miss., and last year’s game was between #3 Grand Rapids and #7 Gulf Coast.

“Each year we strive to bring the fans a quality matchup at our bowl game,” Taylor said. “We feel like this is one of the best, if not the best bowl game in the NJCAA.”

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