No. 7 MGCCC outguns No. 3 Grand Rapids 62-53

MGCCC head coach Steve Campbell (right) celebrates the Ms Bowl victory with his team Dec. 5

2010 Mississippi Bowl gets offensive

They say “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”

Despite the fact that the 2010 Mississippi Bowl featured 115 points and more than a thousand yards of offense, two big defense plays down the stretch helped No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College outlast No. 3 Grand Rapids Community College 62-53 Dec. 5 before 3, 100 fans at Biloxi Indian Stadium.

The win by the Bulldogs (10-2) is the second in three years at the Mississippi Bowl and is sure to vault Gulf Coast higher in the final NJCAA rankings.

“I knew we needed lots of points today,” said Bulldog head coach Steve Campbell, who’s now 3-2 all-time in bowl games while at Gulf Coast. “Grand Rapids is a great football team and I felt we had our work cut out for us.”

With Gulf Coast nursing a 56-53 lead, Bulldogs safety Lamar Johnson intercepted a Grand Rapids pass as the Raiders were driving for a game-tying field goal with 1:30 to go. After the Gulf Coast offense ran the clock down to eight seconds, a last ditch, flea- flicker play by the Raiders (10-2) ended up as a 1-yard fumble return touchdown by Bulldog lineman Mario Stovall as time expired. Those defensive highlights were overshadowed by a cascade of big plays from both offenses throughout a contest that kept the scoreboard operator and statisticians busy right up to the game’s final play.

MGCCC’S Alonzo Lawrence (15) scoops up a fumble and returns it for a TD against Grand Rapids at the 2010 Ms. Bowl Dec. 5.

“We didn’t play well today,” said Grand Rapids head coach Tom Annese. “We dug ourselves a whole early and we made too many mistakes.”

Grand Rapids fell behind Gulf Coast 20-0 in the first quarter after two of the team’s six turnovers led to 14 Gulf Coast points, a 15-yard TD pass from Clayton Moore to Curt Amacker and a 30-yard fumble return by Alonzo Lawrence. A James Gillum 4-yard TD run in between also helped the Bulldogs early surge.

The second quarter opened with a 14-point offensive burst from Grand Rapids, featuring two touchdown passes by Raider quarterback James Stallons, a 79-yarder to Brian Parker and an 8-yard strike to Juan Hemphill. Stallons had a monster day for Grand Rapids, going 26-38 for 465 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Then the Bulldog offense responded with a 14-point uprising of its own as Clayton Moore hooked up with wide receiver Javon Bell twice for scores… a 16-yarder and a two yarder to make it 35-17. Moore went 26-47 for 354 yards, four TD’S and two interceptions while Bell grabbed 9 passes for 182 yards.

The Raiders closed the first half with a 45-yard field goal by Greg Cognetto and a 32-yard TD pass from Stallons to Dominque Douglas to make it 35-23 Bulldogs at halftime.

Grand Rapids QB James Stallons threw for 465 yards and 7 TD’S In the Ms. Bowl Dec. 5

In the third quarter Grand Rapids made it a string of 18 unanswered points after Bulldog punter Will Scott mishandled a snap and kicked it out of the end zone for a safety and Stallons hit Jacob Payne on a 51-yard TD pass to cut the Bulldog lead to 35-32.

The Bulldogs offense re-loaded as James Gillum scored his second touchdown from 2-yards out and Moore hit Mo Millam on a 42-yard TD pass to up the lead to 49-32.

Grand Rapids then hit for two quick scores at the end of the quarter as Stallons and Douglas connected for an 89-yard TD bomb and an 8-yard strike making it 49-46 Gulf Coast after three quarters.

The Bulldogs embarked on a 10 play, 80 yard scoring drive that was capped with a four-yard, William “The refrigerator” Perry-esque TD run by 330 pound nose guard Jonathan Jenkins of the team’s “jumbo” formation.

“Big time players make big plays when the game is on the line,” said Jenkins. “I knew I had to come through on that one.”

The Raiders closed to 56-53 on the fourth TD connection between Stallons and Douglas with exactly five minutes remaining. Douglas caught 10 passes for 232 yards to go along with his four TD’S.

With 2:37 to go, Stallons found a wide open Jacob Payne for what could’ve been a lead-changing 90 yard TD pass but Payne dropped the pass. Four plays later, Lamar Johnson’s interception…his seventh in the last four games…all but sealed the win by Gulf Coast. On the day, Grand Rapids committed six turnovers and 10 penalties.

“I told the sophomores this is the way you want to end the season,” said Campbell. “They’ll remember this victory as long as they live.”

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