PERKINSTON - Coming off of a big upset against then-No. 1 Copiah-Lincoln on Saturday, Pearl River hoped to duplicate its magic at arch-rival No. 7 Gulf Coast on Thursday.
But the Wildcats sputtered out of the gate, missing on their first seven passes of the game to set the tone and the Bulldogs pounced. With a second complete effort in as many weeks, Gulf Coast ended up cruising to a 41-10 victory at A.L. May Memorial Stadium.
With Hinds defeating Co-Lin 33-26, the Bulldogs' win clinched the MACJC South Division and guarantees them a home game to open the playoffs.
"Anytime you can find a way to win this game between Pearl River and Gulf Coast you'll take a win anyway you can get it," Gulf Coast coach Chad Huff said. "Tonight I thought the guys came out and played with a lot of emotion. We talked about playing with our minds, our heart, our soul and our body and giving it all we got. I thought the kids came out and did that."
The Bulldogs (6-1, 5-0 MACJC South) put in a complete effort. While the offense scored on each of its first five possessions, the defense never allowed the Wildcats (2-5, 1-4) to get comfortable.
Even after limiting PRCC to just 82 yards rushing and 84 passing, MGCCC defensive coordinator Steve Davis said he wanted to see more from his squad.
"I was tickled to death with the way we played. We played really hard, but we're still giving up too much," he said. "They got 10 points that they shouldn't have gotten. I don't mean to be greedy and selfish but we're still making mental mistakes that's going to cost us in big ball games."
PRCC never mustered much offensively and ended up rotating three quarterbacks.
Starter Matt Williams completed just 5 of 19 for 64 yards. Former Boston College QB Mack Lowrie didn't fare much better, completing just 2 of 8. He was also picked off by Gulf Coast defensive back Danzel Allen, who found his way into the end zone 41 yards away to put the Bulldogs ahead 41-3 early in the fourth quarter.
"We blitzed them a lot early. Then we disguised blitzes and didn't blitz," Davis said. "I think us changing the coverages may have messed them up a little bit."
Third-string QB Marshall Kranz scored the team's lone touchdown on a 11-yard lob to tight end Anthony Jones in the back right corner of the end zone with just over six minutes remaining.
Former St. Martin kicker Brannan O'Keefe broke the shutout early in the second quarter by converting a 29-yard field goal.
"We didn't execute like we wanted to and more than anything we didn't match their intensity," PRCC coach William Jones said. "I really just think that was a short (turnaround) for us coming off such an emotional week and the guys were really taxed out."
Leading the offense
Sophomore running back Chris Robinson led Gulf Coast's rushing effort, scoring on runs of 5, 4 and 15 yards. He finished with a team-high 59 yards on 11 carries. T'Rod Daniels scored the team's final offensive touchdown just before the half on a 7-yard run and finished with 34 yards on seven carries.
Former Vancleave standout and Louisiana-Lafayette signee Walter Williams rushed for 36 yards on eight carries.
"You have to be consistent offensively and stay in front of the chains," Huff said. "Anytime you can do that you can run your offense."
For the second week in a row, Gulf Coast quarterback A.J. Erdely was efficient, completing 18 of 27 passes for 149 yards. He opened the night's scoring by connecting with former Biloxi standout Tevaris McCormick on a 4-yard pass. Gulf Coast ended up scoring on all five first-half possessions.
"He was very effective and is getting better each week," Huff said. "That's what it's about. It's about improving. Practice is everything."
Erdely's top target, former Gulfport receiver Jevon Floyd caught five passes for 35 yards. Former Admiral Jonathan Nance registered four receptions, while McCormick and Ocean Springs' Ishmel Morrow finished with three catches.
MACJC South action continues next week for both squads. Gulf Coast travels to Co-Lin, with Pearl River hosting Northeast.
Former Vancleave, Gulf Coast and Mississippi State standout Chris White was on hand Thursday. The former Patriot took midfield for the coin toss. Also on the home sideline was for George County, Gulf Coast, Alabama and Southern Miss defensive back Alonzo Lawrence.