A year ago the Harrison Central Red Rebels nipped rival Gulfport for a rare win in the series.
The Admirals made sure history didn’t repeat itself Friday night, pulling away late for a 33-14 victory at HCHS.
“We were hungry, way hungrier. We never forgot last year’s game. We had an extra hard week of practice. Coach motivated us because we’re going to have a year to talk about this,” GHS quarterback T.Q. Newsome said. “... We just want to represent our city the best way we can.”
Newsome has continued to make strides running Gulfport’s new option offense and has a particularly good feel for when to give the ball to his running back or keep it and take off. His growing confidence showed Friday as he rushed for 238 yards with scores of 4, 1 and 31 yards. His last one, which capped the night’s scoring, was particularly impressive as he waited long enough to see his running back get popped before taking off down the visitor’s sideline. Earlier in the game Newsome also had a 91-yard run where he showed patience as he ran to his left before finding room down the sideline.
“He does a great job reading that midline,” GHS coach Eddie Pierce said. “We work on that every day, but he’s able to read it really quickly. Some people it takes them a minute, but he can hit it and go. He’s just a smart kid and a good player.”
Senior Antonio Sandifer emerged Friday as a threat rushing the ball. He finished with 113 yards on 11 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown through the left side of the line that put Gulfport (5-3, 4-0) ahead 26-14 with 8:39 remaining.
“We just keep having guys step up for us,” Pierce said.
Jordan Lee opened the game’s scoring midway through the first quarter on an 18-yard run.
For much of the season the Red Rebels (3-5, 2-2) have been a run-heavy offense and have struggled to pass consistently. Friday the opposite was mostly true as Gulfport held star running back Keon Moore to a season-low 38 yards rushing.
“The biggest thing was could we move the ball on their defense?” HCHS coach Casey Cain said. “Evidently their front seven is as good as we’ve seen all year and as good as advertised.”
Gulfport defensive lineman Jeremiah Braziel said the bulk of their preparation this week revolved around the talented HCHS running back.
“We knew we had a big week dealing with Keon and Bryce Ramsey and the rest of their O-line; they have a really big O-line,” he said. “We came in Tuesday morning to get ready to win the line of scrimmage. If we win the box and the line of scrimmage we win the game. If you slow Keon down you win the game.”
In an effort to spark their offense, the Red Rebels moved Moore out to receiver and saw some success throwing the football. The senior ended up with seven receptions for 93 yards including a 15-yard touchdown that gave HCHS an early 7-6 lead in the first quarter.
Quarterback Chase Jones also threw a 15-yard touchdown to Jacobi Moore with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter to bring HCHS within five at 19-14.
“Our Achilles heel all year has been throwing the football, but we had a little bit of success tonight,” Cain said.
Jones finished 10 of 23 for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
Gulfport will look to remain unbeaten in Region 4-6A next Friday at D’Iberville. HCHS hosts Hancock.