GOODMAN — No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast turned in a dominant defensive effort Thursday night, slamming Holmes 41-7 at Ras Branch Stadium.
The Bulldogs (3-0) allowed just 64 total yards, all but one yard of which came on the ground. Holmes (0-3) had a 66-yard run in the first quarter and basically nothing else all night.
"it was a team effort," Gulf Coast coach Jack Wright said. "We were really smothering on defense, to be honest with you. Anytime you come in and play this offense, it's so scary. You have everybody wadded up in there tight trying to stop the option and the run, and you're just scared at any point one of those good athletes is going to pop out of there. We gave up one play, and really only one play all night. We'll take that."
Jackie Matthews (So., Pinson Valley/Pinson Ala.) had eight total tackles, including two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Gulf Coast had 13.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The Gulf Coast offense was bottled up for the entire first quarter, when neither team could score. The Bulldogs broke the tie early in the second quarter when Chance Lovertich (So., Jackson Prep/Brandon) found Marquise Bridges (So., Petal/Brookhaven) on a swing pass for a 72-yard touchdown.
"It was good to see Marquise do that," Wright said. "Nobody at Gulf Coast has worked harder than him. To see his hard work pay off and create an explosive for the team, it's really pleasing."
The defense chipped in for its explosive play on Holmes next possession when Mike Smith (Fr., Ridgeland/Flora) scooped up a botched handoff and went 66 yards to make it 14-0.
"Mike is a great football player," Wright said. "He's all over the field. He makes a lot of tackles. He's a freshman, but we knew after two or three days in pads he was going to be really good for us. He was Jonny on the spot."
Gulf Coast cashed in on a two-minute drive to close out the scoring in the half. Omni Wells (So., Moss Point/Moss Point) scored on a 1-yard plunge with 24 seconds left.
Shaun Anderson scored on Gulf Coast's first possession of the second half, breaking loose on a 43-yard touchdown run.
Lovertich threw two touchdown passes to Jymetre Hester (Fr., Glades Central/Belle Glade Fla.), one from 6 yards in the third quarter and one from 30 in the fourth.
Lovertich completed 20-of-26 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns. His one interception resulted in Holmes' only score, when it was returned 89 yards for a touchdown.
"It was my fault putting him in some tough situations early, but we came in here with the plan to throw the football," Wright said. "We felt like that matchup favored us, but he took some hits tonight. He's a tough kid."
Hester led the Bulldogs with seven catches for 87 yards. Bridges caught two for 83, and seven different receivers finished with catches.
Deondre House (Fr., Senatobia/Senatobia) led the rushing attack with 80 yards on nine carries. The Bulldogs ran for 213 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
It was the last game against North Division opponents, with division play starting next Thursday in Perkinston. Jones will visit A.L. May Memorial Stadium, with kickoff at 7 p.m.
"It's Jones-Gulf Coast," Wright said. "It'll be tit for tat, a real tight game. I think all six South Division games going forward will be really tough. The real season starts next week."
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