Gulf Coast has been known for defense.
On Saturday night, it was on full display as the top-ranked Bulldogs ran past East Mississippi 31-7 in the semifinals of the MACJC playoffs at A.L. May Memorial Stadium.
With the win, the Bulldogs snapped a seven-game losing streak to EMCC. It also marked the first time that MGCC has beaten EMCC in the playoffs, ending a five-game postseason skid against the Lions.
Gulf Coast (10-0) will travel to face No. 10-ranked Northwest for the MACJC state championship in Senatobia at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“Just couldn’t be prouder of the way the kids played. We executed well and we didn’t make any major mistakes,” Gulf Coast head coach Jack Wright said. “It was just being a good team tonight. Defense pitched a shutout and against that offense that was just impressive.”
The Bulldog defense held EMCC to just 249 yards of total offense, including just 53 yards rushing.
Poplarville product Austin Bolton scored the Bulldogs’ first touchdown on 2-yard run with 3:29 left in the first quarter to tie the game up at 7-7.
Caden Davis gave MGCCC a 10-7 lead with 13:04 left in the first half with a 23-yard field goal.
The Bulldogs extended the the lead to 17-7 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Chance Lovertich to Marquise Bridges.
“Ever since Chance has been here, he has been on point every single time,” Wright said. “Tonight, was one of his big nights. He was on fire against a very good defense. Receivers did a good job of getting open in space and made plays.”
Lovertich finished the night 25-of-33 for 309 yards with a touchdown.
“I just really feel like tonight we were really balanced with running the ball and throwing. We really were doing whatever we wanted to do,” Lovertich said. “We had a good game plan coming in, they were going to have a cover three or cover two and we knew the spots we wanted to hit, and we did that. They really didn’t know what we were doing.
“This team is a family and we want to win a national championship.”
Picayune product Shaun Anderson added a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:27 left in the third quarter to extend the MGCCC lead to 24-7.
Bolton added his second 2-yard touchdown run with 7:57 left in the game to put the Bulldogs up 31-7.
“Just worry about the next opponent and nothing else. Northwest is a really good team,” Wright said. “It’ll be a good one decided between the lines.”
Zach Patterson scored on a 71-yard punt return to give East Mississippi (6-4) a 7-0 lead with 9:14 left in the first quarter for the Lions’ only touchdown.