PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast scored on four of its first five possessions, and the Bulldogs defense held East Central in check on the way to a 27-14 win Thursday at A.L. May Memorial Stadium.
"It was a good team win," Gulf Coast coach Jack Wright said. "We needed all those points that we were able to punch in there quick in the first half. I had a feeling against East Central, when you go up on a good team like that, you know they're going to make a late run."
East Central put together drives of 19, 14 and 10 plays in the second half, but the Gulf Coast defense was up to the challenge in the red zone. All three ended inside the 20, but the Warriors (3-4, 2-2) only managed one touchdown.
The final two drives had 11 goal-to-go plays, one of which ended in a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Bulldogs defensive coordinator Lytrel Pollard has been utilizing his entire complement of players throughout the season, and the depth paid off.
"We've been getting great effort out of our defense," Wright said. "I really like the way that side of the ball plays. We've got a lot of really good athletes on that side of the ball."
Denzel Carter (Fr., Lakewood/St. Petersburg, Fla) and Terrion Avery (So., Stone/Wiggins) scored twice each for Gulf Coast (5-2, 2-2 MACJC South). Chance Lovertich (Fr., Jackson Prep/Brandon) completed 12-of-18 passes for 163 yards and the two touchdowns in the air.
Carter's two touchdowns came on the first two possessions, with Lovertich completing passes of 5 and 3 yards.
"They really weren't watching me at all," Carter said. "We knew the play action would get 'em. I just had to execute and run my routes. I knew he'd find me."
Avery scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, and a 2-yard run after East Central had notched its only score on the half on a scoop-and-score after an MGCCC fumble.
The Bulldogs led 27-7 at halftime.
"When we've been able to move the ball this year, there's been one consistent theme: We've thrown it and caught it," Wright said. "When we've struggled offensively, it's been a dropped ball or an overthrown pass, something that kind of kills the flow of the game. When we throw and catch, especially in tight spaces, we've been really good offensively. That was the case in the first half."
Gulf Coast ran only 18 plays in the second half.
The Bulldogs get a little extra time off because next week's game is Saturday in Poplarville. Gulf Coast and archrival Pearl River play for the 96th time, with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.
"I've been in the league long enough to know there will be a huge crowd over there," Wright said. "There will be a lot of hard feelings. There's a lot of friends that become enemies for a day. I know it's a big rivalry because I've seen it on film for years and years. I know there will be an electric atmosphere over there, and I look forward to the challenge."
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