ST. MARTIN – The Gulfport football team pushed its win streak to eight games against Region 4-6A Friday night, but not without plenty of drama.
St. Martin quarterback Wayne Overman and receiver Kalem Reddix couldn't quite connect on fourth down in the second overtime, handing Gulfport a 42-35 victory to begin the region schedule at Joe Barlow Stadium.
Gulfport players rushed the field in celebration after coming out on top in a seesaw affair.
“I don't know that I've been in a game this hard fought,” Gulfport coach Eddie Pierce said. “I've been in it 34 years and I've been in different overtime games. This game was the most hard fought game. Kids on both sides, they never quit.”
With Gulfport senior quarterback Cleveland Ford sidelined with an injury, the Admirals used both sophomore Ta'Quoris Newsome and senior Rhodes Walker at quarterback.
After battling through some early inconsistencies, Gulfport found a way to punch it in the end zone twice in overtime to pick up the victory.
After Overman hit Reddix from four yards out for the St. Martin touchdown on the first possession of overtime, Gulfport answered when Walker found Sean Daniels on a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at 35-35.
On the first play of the second overtime, Walker took it in himself, running around the right side untouched for the touchdown to make it 42-35 in Gulfport's favor.
St. Martin's final shot at the end zone had Overman throwing to Reddix, who was surrounded by three Gulfport defensive backs on the play just inside the end zone.
“I was proud of the kids,” St. Martin coach Eddie Wayne Whitehead said. “I told them before, in life, just like football, you face adversity. It's how you respond to it. You can't ever quit. Even as bad as things look, you've got to keep fighting and pushing forward. That was our main thing tonight. I knew we'd have to overcome mistakes and we did. When fell down 10, we could have gave up. We kept fighting
After catching six touchdowns at East Central the week prior, Reddix finished with six catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns. His season total of touchdowns now stands at 15.
Overman completed 19 of 32 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a 3-yard touchdown run.
Gulfport had two running backs hit the 100-yard mark. Larozzo Shugart ran nine times for 116 yards and a touchdown. Newsome ran 22 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Shuggart's 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second provided a spark that Gulfport needed badly after going into halftime down 10-7.
“The 80-yarder, we were totally out of place,” Whitehead said. “That's on me. I'll take it. We just weren't ready enough.”
Gulfport took a 28-17 lead with 8:48 remaining when Princeton Fells made his second interception of the game and ran it back 40 yards for the touchdown.
“I studied Kalem and Wayne all week,” Fells said. “They're the best duo in Mississippi. I studied them every day, five hours a day.
“I knew he was going to throw it there (on the two interceptions), especially the second one. I just knew he was throwing it to me and I took it to the house.”
St. Martin had its own answer when Overman hit Reddix on a screen pass and he took it 73 yards up the sideline and into the end zone. The Yellow Jackets added the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 28-25.
Gomez nailed a 40-yard field goal with 3:05 remaining to tie the contest at 28-28, but Gulfport finished the game in overtime to prevent its first loss to the Yellow Jackets since 2003.
Gulfport ended a two-game losing streak, improving to 3-2 and 1-0. St. Martin dropped to 3-3 and 0-1.