Turnovers were the difference in Gulfport’s 24-3 victory over Biloxi on Friday night at Milner Stadium.
The Admirals (6-5, 4-3 Region 6-4A) earned a 6A state playoff berth as the third seed. Despite the loss, Biloxi (6-5, 4-3) earns the fourth seed in Region 4-6A.
Gulfport defensive back Chad Crenshaw had two interceptions, including a 56-yard pick six. Lucious Tyson had the other interception. The Admirals converted the other two miscues into 10 points.
“Our kids knew what they had to do,” Gulfport coach Eddie Pierce said. “We had to win this game. Anything less, we’re out of the playoffs. Our coaches did a great job.”
Biloxi appeared headed for a touchdown on its opening possession, reaching the Admirals’ 7-yard-line. Tyson’s 100 yard interception for a touchdown off a tipped pass was called back because of an illegal block at midfield.
“I thought we had a good play call,” Indians coach Bobby Hall said. “We didn’t make the play and they did. It turned the game around. Our recipe is when we went 6-2 we took care of the ballm and took it away some. Tonight, we did neither.”
Gulfport converted the turnover into a 7-0 first quarter lead as Cleveland Ford and Jalen Knight connected on a 27-yard TD pass.
The Indians had another chance to score in the second quarter, facing third and 13 at the Admirals’ 35. Crenshaw’s first interception ended the drive.
Cain Suddeth’s 25 yard field goal boosted the Admirals’ lead to 10-0 at halftime.
Ford’s one yard TD run gave Admirals a 17-0 third quarter lead.
Biloxi, who hasn’t won at Gulfport since 1984, avoided a shutout on Kevin Martinez’s 22 yard field goal with 11:02 left, getting within 17-3.
But Crenshaw’s 56 yard interception return for TD with 6:00 left delivered the knockout punch clinched the Admirals’ second straight playoff berth.
“I didn’t want to let the seniors down,” Crenshaw said. “I did it for the team and for my family.”