PERKINSTON – For the second straight week, the underdog Co-Lin Wolfpack came from behind as they upset the No. 6 ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs 41-37 to win the MACJC State Championship. It was the Wolfpack’s first state championship since 1985. Co-Lin will represent the state in the Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.
“The first half we didn’t play very smart, we played hard, but we kind of played like we did in the whole ball game in Wesson,” said Co-Lin Head Coach Glenn Davis. “We told them at halftime that we weren’t playing very physical and we weren’t playing very smart and we’ve got 30 minutes to change what we weren’t doing. Kids came out and we made some plays offensively that got us going, the defense got going, it was a great second half.”
The Wolfpack would take their first lead of the game with 7:52 left in the game.
Quarterback Chandler Rogers would find a wide-open Marquis Hayes for his third touchdown of the game. This one, a 46-yard strike, put Co-Lin up 34-31 with 7:52 left in the game.
“Coach called some good plays, Chandler got it to me and I was wide open,” said Hayes who had the biggest game of his Co-Lin career with touchdowns of 51, 71, and 46 yards.
On the next Gulf Coast possession, Milton Griffin would pick off a Hatten pass to give Co-Lin the ball at the Gulf Coast 17-yard line. Rogers would hit Joe Craig Jr. on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Long’s PAT increased the Wolfpack lead to 41-31 with 5:54 remaining.
But the Bulldogs weren’t going to go down without a fight. After Hatten was sacked by Terrell Hartsfield at the Gulf Coast 3-yard line, it looked like the Wolfpack had the game well in hand. On the very next play, Hatten would throw a 97-yard touchdown pass to Dhaquille Williams with 4:48 still on the clock. The Bulldogs would try an onside kick, but the Wolfpack would recover.
The Gulf Coast defense would force hold Co-Lin on fourth down with less than a minute left in the game. After an incomplete pass, Hatten found Williams for a 51-yard pass down to the Co-Lin 30. On the next play, Greg Sims would intercept Hatten in the end zone to ice the win for the Wolfpack.
“I really can’t believe it,” said quarterback Chandler Rogers. “I didn’t know how long it had been since Co-Lin had won the state and to come out here against Gulf Coast who embarrassed us at homecoming it was awesome to come down here and get a win. We haven’t lost on the road, we enjoy playing on the road, and it was nice to get some redemption.”
Rogers completed 23-of-31 passes for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Gulf Coast scored first on an 11-yard run by Anton Thornton with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter. Stephen Brauchle’s PAT gave the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead.
Co-Lin would mount a 75-yard drive that took 6:23. Running back Van Lee ran in from 2 yards out. Nolan Long’s PAT was partially blocked as the Wolfpack pulled to 7-6 with 1:03 left in the first quarter.
Gulf Coast would score 17 points in the second quarter. A 7-yard run by Derrick Goff at the 12:03 mark put the Bulldogs up 14-6.
After Fenest Armstrong intercepted a Rogers pass, the Bulldogs took advantage as Hatten hit Williams on a 23-yard strike to put Gulf Coast up 21-6.
On the next Co-Lin possession, Rogers would find Hayes for a 51-yard touchdown. Long’s PAT would pull the Wolfpack to 21-13 with 6:30 left in the half.
Gulf Coast would increase their lead to 24-13 on a 28-yard Brauchle field goal with 1:43 remaining in the half.
Co-Lin would strike first in the second half when Casey Gladney took a Zach Pinkerton punt 71-yards to pay dirt to pull the Wolfpack to with 24-20 at the 11:03 mark in the third quarter.
Bulldog running back JoJo Snell would break free to score from 51-yards out to increase the Gulf Coast lead to 31-20 with 7:49 left in the third.
On the first play of Co-Lin’s next possession, Rogers found Hayes again, this time a 71-yard bomb that took 9 seconds off the clock. Long’s PAT closed the Gulf Coast lead to 31-27.
Hayes led the Wolfpack receivers with 8 catches for 231 yards. Craig had 8 catches for 72 yards. Co-Lin rushed for 94 yards. Van Lee led the way with 44 yards. Darius Guy added 42 yards before going out of the game in the second quarter with a foot injury.
Hatten was 10-of-19 for 280 yards 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Williams had 9 catches for 235 yards. Thornton led the Gulf Coast ground attack with 7 carries for 58 yards. Goff, who rushed for 145 yards in the first meeting, was held to 32 yards by the Co-Lin defense.
On defense for the Wolfpack, Milton Griffin, Brian Isaac, and Greg Sims had interceptions. Jordan Harris had 11 tackles to lead the Wolfpack.