Gulfport capitalized on two Biloxi turnovers and a costly fourth down mistake in the fourth quarter, and the Admirals defense denied the home team a first down on their final possession of the night, as the Admirals left Biloxi Friday night with a 37-31 win over the Indians and a perfect record in the district.
Gulfport, which improved to 9-2 overall and 7-0 in Region 4-6A, has won 23 consecutive region contests.
The win was especially impressive for the Admirals because they struggled to stop Biloxi’s potent 1-2 punch ground game of running back K.K. Kendrick and quarterback Chad O’Neal. Kendrick finished the first half with 202 yards and three touchdowns. O’Neal rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
Kendrick ended the game with a total of 308 rushing yards and four touchdowns, 106 of those coming in the second half.
“We played against adversity; we just never quit,” said Gulfport coach John Archie. “They’d made some plays. We’re a fourth-quarter football team; we played all four quarters, and we came out on top.
“We’ve obviously got to fix some things going into the playoffs next week, but I couldn’t be more proud of this team, three-time district champs, twenty-three game win streak in the district.
“It’s a great place to be; I have a great coaching staff. It’s an all-inn process from superintendent to my principal to my athletic director, they give us everything we need to win.”
Gulfport’s offense didn’t get to touch the ball in the third quarter until there was only 1:04 left in the period, but the Admirals only needed twenty-six seconds as Cade Crosby connected Jytireus Smith for a 60-yard score to tie the game at 31-31 after the PAT kick.
Gulfport’s defense stiffened in the fourth quarter, forcing a fourth-and-four. Then the Admirals got a little help in the form of a Biloxi mistake as the snap went over O’Neal’s head and the ball was fielded at midfield as the Admirals took over on downs.
The Admirals also faced a fourth down, but Crosby connected with Tommie Johnson about 10 yards from the goal line and he took it in for the score and the win.
The Indians had another shot, starting at their own 24, but they failed to pick up a first down. Gulfport took over with 4:51 left on the game clock, and they held the ball until the game’s final tick.
Biloxi (8-3, 4-3) put together a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open the second half with O’Neal keeping for the 6-yard score, and a 25-24 lead. The Indians were successful with the onside kick, and drove 49 yards, capped by a 1-yard Kendrick carry for a 31-24 lead.
“Our team has fought hard all year long,” said BIloxi coach Katlan French. “We had a chance to win there at the end, but we came up a little short.
“We know what we’re capable of this week. Hopefully we’ll get some things fixed.”
Gulfport will host George County next week at Milner Stadium in Gulfport. Biloxi will travel to Petal in the first round.
Pass Christian 35, Purvis 20: Before Blake Pennock was hired to take over as the Pass Christian football coach after the 2018 season, he found out through some research the Pirates had never won a playoff game.
On Friday night, he delivered the first playoff victory in the history of Pass Christian football on the Pirates’ home field.
“It feels great,” Pennock said. “It’s just validation for what we’ve been doing. The kids have worked incredibly hard.”
After struggling on offense in the first half, the Pirates found their rhythm to close out the game. Senior quarterback Dustin Allison completed 13 of 24 passes for 228 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also ran 12 times for 53 yards and a TD.
Senior running back Huu Nguyen carried 14 times for 111 yards.
Pass Christian (8-3) will travel to South Pike (12-0) in the second round of the 4A playoffs.
East Central 50, Hattiesburg 48: The Hornets (7-4) held off a furious rally from Hattiesburg to clinch a spot in the 5A playoffs with a trip to West Jones next week.
East Central senior running back Teshun McGee ran 25 times for 235 yards and four touchdowns to lead the way. Fellow senior Dylan Grinsteinner had 22 carries for 131 yards.
East Central led 36-16 at the half and had to overcome multiple successful onside kicks from Hattiesburg to avoid the loss in Hurley.
“There’s no coach in America that could ever be prouder of his kids than I am,” East Central coach Seth Smith said.
D’Iberville 28, St. Martin 7: The Warriors pulled away in the second half to earn a bit of revenge after falling to the rival Yellow Jackets 48-28 at D’Iberville a year ago.
D’Iberville (9-2) will host Brandon (8-4) in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
St. Martin’s season comes to a close with a record of 7-4.
George County 34, Meridian 8: The Rebels clinched the the No. 4 seed in Region 3-6A and a playoff bid with the road win. George County (7-4) will travel to Gulfport in the first round.
George County sophomore running back Trent Howell threw a two-yard touchdown pass and had scoring runs of 1 and 4 yards.
Picayune 49, Wayne County 28: Picayune broke free in the second half after playing to a 28-28 tie at halftime.
Senior running back Cam Thomas had a pair of rushing touchdowns and three other players had their own rushing scores — Austin Samples, Isaac Hickman and Jalen Hall.
A 4-yard touchdown pass from Hickman to Kade Turnage capped off the scoring in the fourth quarter for the Maroon Tide, who finish the regular season with an 11-0 mark.
Picayune will host Brookhaven (5-6) in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
Hancock 42, West Harrison 28: Senior running back Sebastian Fausett ran 25 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns to help the Hawks (4-7, 1-6) pick up their first region victory of the season.
Hancock scored on every possession except its last when it took a knee to run out the clock.
Harrison Central 21, Ocean Springs 16: Senior defensive back Chris Davis returned an interception for a touchdown on the second play of the third quarter and that proved to be the difference as the Red Rebels closed the season with a record of 5-6 and 3-4 in Region 4-6A.
Ethan Hunt kicked three field goals and Jakari Smith had a 39-yard touchdown run for the Greyhounds (5-6, 4-3).
Ocean Springs will travel to Oak Grove in the first round of the 6A playoffs.
Gautier 42, Pearl River Central 21: Senior Jordan Irving had a punt return for a touchdown and two more TD receptions to allow the Gators to finish the season with a mark of 3-8.
PRC’s season comes to a close with a record of 3-8.
Pascagoula 51, Long Beach 8: Senior running back Cory Walker ran for 144 yards and three touchdowns to help the Panthers (6-5, 4-3) cruise to victory.
Jaheim Addison had a scoop and score and Antonio Sanford returned an interception for a touchdown for Pascagoula, which travels to Laurel (9-2) in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
“We played like we were supposed to and executed,” said Pascagoula coach Lewis Sims, who has been to the playoffs seven times during his nine years at the school.
Poplarville 35, St. Stanislaus 14: Zac Owen ran for a pair of touchdowns as Poplarville (6-5) advances to play at North Pike (6-6) in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Poplarville’s two first half scores were a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Devin Hart and a 22-yard TD run by senior Chase Shears.
The St. Stanislaus season ends with a record of 6-5.
Greene County 33, Vancleave 20: The Wildcats built a 27-0 lead in the third quarter to cruise to a first-round win in the Class 4A playoffs. Greene County (8-3) will travel to Lawrence County (7-5) in the second round.
The Vancleave season ends with a 5-6 mark.