For the first time this season, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College coach Chad Huff saw a complete effort from his team last week. They’ll need another one Thursday at East Central C.C.
The result was a 21-7 victory over Copiah-Lincoln and the Bulldogs’ first win of the young season.
“Our kids just played for 60 minutes. They played hard and with passion, like it meant everything to them. The first couple of games we just didn't play for a complete 60 minutes,” Huff said. “We found some identity on offense with some things we're good at and then did a good job defensively with our backs against the wall several times. The offense put us in some bad situations a few times but they never let up and were able to find a way in the fourth quarter to win it.”
Southern Miss commit T’Rod Daniels had a breakout performance for the Bulldogs (1-2) last week. After rushing for just 40 yards on 11 carries against Itawamba and East Mississippi, the future Golden Eagle broke free for 103 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
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Huff was particularly proud of the play of his defensive. While the Bulldogs’ rushing attack seemed to find its stride against Co-Lin, MGCCC mostly smothered the Wolfpack’s ground attack to the tune of 78 yards on 37 attempts.
“I think our defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and our linebackers played well,” he said. “We were able to put some pressure on the quarterback, making them one dimensional where they couldn't run the football and had to start throwing it.”
Thursday’s opponent could prove to be a challenge, although recent history suggests otherwise. Gulf Coast has had its way with the Warriors, holding a 51-15-2 all-time advantage in the series. MGCCC is currently riding a 13-game winning streak, but Huff is quick to point out the Warriors, who rolled Pearl River 35-21 last week, could easily be 3-0.
“They're going to make us earn everything we get. It's not going to be easy and it's always tough to play on the road in Decatur,” he said. “It's a big South Division game. We need to find a way to win it.”
ECCC lost its opener 48-40 to Holmes and then fell 24-21 to Northeast Mississippi before cruising past the Wildcats.
East Central boasts the reigning MACJC Defensive Player of the Week in defensive back Juwon Hayes-Keyes. The former Taylorsville standout recorded 11 tackles and a whopping three interceptions against PRCC. He’s currently fourth on the team with 23 tackles.
Quarterback Dominic Marino has played well for ECCC early, completing 58.4 percent of his passes for 490 yards and seven touchdowns against just one interception. He’s a true dual-threat QB as he has also rushed for 138 and a touchdown on 30 carries. According to Scout.com, Marino holds an offer from New Mexico.
Former Harrison Central running back Dwayne Barnett has been reliable for the Warriors. He’s currently leading ECCC with 210 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries.
“He’s a very talented running back, physical,” Huff said. “He can be explosive at any point in time on the field.”
In addition to Barnett, ECCC’s roster also includes Pascagoula linebacker Tisdale Simms, Vancleave lineman Lucas Orchard and HCHS linebacker Aaron Rainey.
Rainey has made six tackles on the young season.
What: MGCCC vs. ECCC
When: 6:30 p.m., Thursday
Where: Bailey Stadium, Decatur
Radio: 103.1 FM