Mississippi Gulf Coast pitched a second-half shutout but couldn’t erase a halftime deficit, falling to Hinds 28-21 at Joe Renfroe Stadium.
The Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1 MACJC South) lost an opportunity to take control of the division, which now sees Hinds (4-0, 3-0) a half-game in front of Jones County.
“It was a tough loss. We didn’t play well in the first half,” Gulf Coast coach Chad Huff said. “The things that win you tight games like this are turnovers and explosive plays. We shot ourselves in the foot and dug ourselves a hole.”
The loss snapped a 12-game win streak in the series against Hinds. The Bulldogs return to action next week with a non-division game against Mississippi Delta in Perkinston.
The Bulldogs saw a first-play flea flicker turn into an interception, then fumbled on their second possession. Hinds also had a turnover sandwiched in that bumbling start to the game, but the Eagles scored touchdowns on their next two possessions.
The Gulf Coast offense got untracked on its next possession, going 66 yards in 15 plays, ending in a 2-yard run by Terrion Avery
After another Hinds touchdown, Deandre Torrey scampered in from 34 yards out to make it 21-14.
Hinds added another touchdown before halftime for a 28-14 lead.
Gulf Coast’s Saivion Smith got his second interception in as many weeks to start the second half and put the offense in good field position.
Torrey got his second touchdown on a 1-yard plunge after a 12-play drive aided by a slew of Hinds penalties. The Eagles were called for 13 penalties worth 83 yards on the night.
Gulf Coast ran for 301 yards, with Torrey picking up 159 yards on 26 rushes and the two touchdowns. Avery had one score and 102 yards on 22 carries.
Tyquan Ulmer caught seven passes for 52 yards.
“I think we made some adjustments and made some plays,” Huff said. “We told the guys they have to keep playing hard, swarm to the football and get 11 hats on the ball. We were able to create some turnovers.”
The Bulldogs had three more chances to even the score, and all three drives ended reached Hinds territory.
Mason Hunt saw what would have been a career-long 47-yard field goal clang off the crossbar and back into the end zone. It was the first miss of the season for last week’s NJCAA Special Teams Player of the Week.
Despite turnovers on its first two possessions, Gulf Coast won the turnover battle. Hinds had an interception and two fumbles, including one that wound up in a 47-yard return by Deontae Haynes.
He returned it to the Eagles 25-yard line, but an unsportsmanlike penalty pushed the Bulldogs back to the 40.
The Bulldogs’ last drive ended at the Hinds 31 when quarterback Torrance Gibson’s was pulled down a yard short on fourth-and-7 with 2:10 left, and Hinds ran out the clock.
“We came back and fought to the end,” Huff said. “I don’t think we ever quit and gave ourselves a chance to win all the way to that last possession.”