Each season, when Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and East Mississippi Community College clash, their rosters are littered with next-level talent. Thursday’s 7 p.m. matchup will be no different as both teams are loaded for what they respectively hope is a run at the MACJC title and possibly more.
For the Lions’ program, EMCC has garnered plenty of attention over the last couple of years thanks to Netflix’s documentary “Last Chance U,” which chronicled the last two seasons under coach Buddy Stephens. EMCC already was a go-to school for many Division I athletes looking for a change of scenery or a springboard back to the next level. The web series, however, supposedly hasn’t factored much into the Bulldogs’ preparation.
“They’re just another team on the schedule,” MGCCC quarterback Torrance Gibson said after Thursday’s 42-41 win over Itawamba. “We don’t look at the outside, we’re just taking it one day at a time.”
Gibson will draw plenty of attention heading into the meeting. As a former prep All-America selection and Ohio State signee, Gibson didn’t disappoint against ICC, passing for 127 yards and rushing for another 189 and two scores.
The Lions’ roster was bolstered with former LSU quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. The Tiger-turned-Lion was a catalyst for East’s big win, completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 62 yards on 15 carries and threw two interceptions.
The Bulldog secondary will likely be busy Thursday as Scott completed passes to eight different players, including Kirk Merritt. The former Oregon Duck and Texas A&M Aggie from Louisiana led the Lions with seven receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown. Georgia Southern transfer Mike Williams was second on the team with four receptions for 70 yards and a score.
For Gulf Coast, which leads the all-time series 31-28-4 but has lost the last six meetings, they key will be consistency.
“I want to see us finish,” MGCCC coach Chad Huff said. “I want to see us play 60 minutes. These games with East Mississippi, the momentum has changed so much throughout the game. It’s battling that momentum and overcoming, understanding whether we’re up or down, we have to play 60 minutes.”
Gautier’s Deandre Torrey was rewarded Wednesday for his stunning debut performance, earning MACJC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The former Gator turned plenty of heads last Thursday when he broke free for 189 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries.
Asked about his new running back after the game, Gibson’s eyes got big and he let out a long yell as he bragged on the freshman.
“He’s bad. That’s a bad boy right there,” he said. “You see it in practice, but you don’t see that. You see the spunk and cuts, but I didn’t know he’d have a breakout game like that. He’s special.”
The Lions’ roster boasts several Coast connections, including Pascagoula running back Reginald Hunter, Biloxi kicker Grayson Pontius, Vancleave kicker Taylor Crabtree, George County linebacker Kaleb Gentry, Pascagoula defensive end Rasheed Jackson and fellow ‘Goula defensive lineman Jauan Collins.
Against JCJC: Hunter had one 8-yard carry; Crabtree converted a 24-yard field goal, all six PATs and bunted four times for an average of 37 yards; and Pontius punted three times with an average of 39.3 yards. Gentry, Jackson and Collins did not record any tackles.
Who: Gulf Coast at East Mississippi
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Radio: 103.1 FM