Both George County and Gulfport transitioned from spread attacks to flexbone offenses over the summer. The gargantuan transitions were evident Friday in the inaugural Port City Bowl Classic nightcap as the Rebels and Admirals both suffered from a number of turnovers and more than enough dirty laundry thrown to Milner Stadium’s playing surface by the game’s officials.
The Admirals, however, played well enough in the second half to pull away from George County and claim a 27-7 victory.
Gulfport and George County combined for a whopping six lost fumbles on the damp night.
Three consecutive possessions Gulfport lost fumbles, with several bobbles coming on quarterback-center exchanges. That was a point of emphasis during camp as the Admirals were relatively inexperienced under center, and with all-everything sophomore recruit McKinnley Jackson snarling from across the line of scrimmage, pressure on Gulfport was only amplified Friday. Still, the Admirals overcame the string of turnovers to land the night’s second golden football trophy.
“I think if we had played last week we would have been a little cleaner. All in all I’m pleased with the kids,” GHS coach Eddie Pierce said. “We have some work to do with the offensive line and some other areas, but that’s why you practice.”
Newsome opened the scoring with 9:42 remaining in the first half when he connected with Derick Hall for a 29-yard touchdown.
“Once I hit the stick, he threw it over the top and it was just there. It was a good visit from my quarterback. Me and him connect. Me and him are like this,” Hall said, wrapping his middle and index fingers around one another.
George County’s Luke Thompson tied the game with 1:42 remaining in the first half when he scooped up a fumble and sprinted 39 yards.
“As bad as we played offensively, we still had a chance to win the game,” GCHS coach Matt Caldwell said. “It just didn’t come out that way in the second half.”
Newsome scored on a 4-yard run at 4:57 in the third to push the Admirals ahead 14-7 and GHS never relinquished its lead.
Hall scored his second touchdown of the night with 7:02 remaining when he swooped in after Ginarious Johnson crunched the Rebel ball carrier, scooped up the ball and raced 37 yards for a touchdown. Newsome punched the ball in from 2 yards out on Gulfport’s next possession to punctuate the night’s scoring.
“I’m especially thankful for my offensive line. They fought,” Newsome said. “You can always go over (the exchange), but it’s totally different in a game. (Jackson) is a heckuva player – a lot better than I expected. It was a hard fought game, but our guys pulled through.
“He’s one of the top guys in the nation, but we fought and came out with it.”
While Gulfport lost three fumbles, so did George County, on top of throwing interceptions by Karlos Dillard and Chad Crenshaw.
“We have to get better offensively. Our defense played well enough and kept us in the game, but we left them on the field all night long. You can’t do that against a football team that’s eventually going to take advantage of that. We have some severe strides we have to make on the offensive side of the football,” Caldwell said. “I know we laid the ball on the ground way too many times and that puts our defense in horrible situations. One of them was a scoop-n-score that they had. You can’t do that against good football teams.
“Heck, you can’t do that in Peewee football and win games. But we’ll keep working to get better.”
George County returns to action Friday at Greene County. Gulfport visits Petal.