PERKINSTON — No. 6 Mississippi Gulf Coast exploded for three quick touchdowns and never looked back against upset-minded Coahoma, winning its home opener 36-6 on Thursday.
Wide receiver Jymetre Hester (Fr., Glades Central/Belle Glade Fla.) scored twice in the first six minutes, finishing with six catches for 80 yards.
"Anytime you get off to a fast start, that puts the other side of the field in a bind," Gulf Coast coach Jack Wright said. "They may feel like they have to get out of character. It's always good to get off to a fast start and makes things easier in the game."
The Bulldogs (2-0) held the Tigers (1-1) to less than 100 yards of total offense, and minus-20 yards rushing. The defense forced two turnovers, had four quarterback sacks and allowed only one touchdown for the second straight week.
That score came on an 8-yard drive after a long interception return.
"That's a talented group," Wright said. "We practice against that group every day, and they move around really well. They created a lot of negative plays today. That's not surprising. We have those types of players."
Coahoma pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent junior college history last week, stunning then-No. 4 Jones 18-10.
"Everybody in the league was surprised by the score out of Clarksville last week," Wright said. "Obviously, that got everybody in the program's attention, and they got our full focus this week."
Jadarrius Perkins (Fr., Hattiesburg/Hattiesburg) stripped the ball from a Coahoma runner on the third play from scrimmage, and two plays later Hester scored from 20 yards out.
After a three-and-out, Gulf Coast went 66 yards in seven plays, with Hester getting into the end zone from 35 yards.
"When you go back and look at the film, you're gonna see we had some guys make some plays in space," Wright said. "Hester's touchdown was a speed sweep and got a guy to miss for 20 yards. The next play, he got over the top, and him and Chance (Lovertich) connected. The next touchdown was just a phenomenal play by Maleik Gray."
Gray (So., LaVergne/La Vergne, Tenn.) went over a defensive back's head for the third score, catching it behind the opponent's back for a SportsCenter Top 10-worthy highlight. That made it 20-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs closed out the first-half scoring with a 10-play, 70-yard drive. All but two of those plays were on the ground, with Austin Bolton (So., Poplarville/Poplarville) scoring his fourth TD of the season from 2 yards.
Three Caden Davis (Fr., Pearl/Pearl) field goals were the only scoring in the second half.
The Bulldogs ran for 224 yards, and Lovertich (So., Jackson Prep/Brandon) completed 20-of-37 passes for 250 yards. Omni Wells (So., Moss Point/Moss Point) led the rushing attack with 76 yards on just 10 carries, and the ground game averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
Gulf Coast closes out its MACJC interdivision schedule next week with a trip to Goodman to play Holmes (0-2). The Bulldogs from the South will play a Bulldogs club from the North that specializes in the triple option.
"When you go to Goodman, it's gonna be a hard game," Wright said. "It's a very hard-nosed team. They built that program on toughness. It's always a challenge to defend that."
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.
Sports Information Director
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College