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No. 19 Co-Lin travels to No. 3 Gulf Coast for Saturday showdown

CO-LIN MEDIA / NATALIE DAVIS / Wolfpack defensive back Nick Beasley (11) looks for blockers as he returns an interception in the 41-21 Co-Lin victory over Hinds on Oct. 11.

CO-LIN MEDIA / NATALIE DAVIS / Wolfpack defensive back Nick Beasley (11) looks for blockers as he returns an interception in the 41-21 Co-Lin victory over Hinds on Oct. 11.

WESSON – As has often been the case of late, the matchup between No. 19 Copiah-Lincoln and No. 3 Gulf Coast this Saturday will go a long way in deciding who wins the MACJC South Division.

Undefeated Gulf Coast (7-0) sits atop the division with a 5-0 record. Co-Lin (5-2) is alone in second place at 4-1. Jones and Hinds trail Co-Lin with identical 2-2 records. The Bobcats and Eagles play each other on Saturday in Ellisville.

Co-Lin has a leg up on finishing in the top two and qualifying for the MACJC Playoffs, but to win the division the Wolfpack must beat the Bulldogs this weekend.

Co-Lin is coming off of a 41-21 homecoming victory over Hinds. Sophomore quarterback Daniel Fitzwater led the Wolfpack with 260 yards on 19-of-26 passing. Fitzwater tossed two touchdowns and kept alive a streak of 13 consecutive games with a scoring toss. Mississippi State commit Donald Gray caught five passes for 123 yards. It was his 70-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that gave Co-Lin a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Co-Lin ground attack had their second best output of the season with 249 yards rushing against Hinds. De’Lance Turner led with 88 yards on 10 carries. Joshua Bates added 72 yards on 12 carries. Bates, a sophomore who played defensive back last season, also scored two rushing touchdowns.

For a third consecutive game the Co-Lin defense was outstanding as they limited Hinds quarterback James Summers, who came in averaging 111 yards rushing per game, to 53 yards on the ground. Sophomore defensive back Nick Beasley notched his first career interception when he picked off Summers in the first half. Freshman linebacker Zachary Williams led the defensive with seven tackles. Sophomore Demond Tucker had six tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for a loss. Sophomore defensive tackle Ryan Duckworth sacked Summers three times.

For the second consecutive season the Wolfpack will serve as the homecoming opponent for Gulf Coast. Last season the Bulldogs handled Co-Lin 21-7 in a game that decided second place in the division. In 2012 the Bulldogs won the regular season matchup in Wesson, 54-21. Co-Lin would get sweet revenge three weeks later when they defeated the Bulldogs 41-37 for the MACJC State Championship in Perkinston.

Gulf Coast is led by first year head coach Chad Huff. Huff had served as offensive coordinator under former head coach Steve Campbell for 10 seasons. Huff took over after Campbell took the head job at the University of Central Arkansas. The Bulldog offense is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Smith. Smith, a Mobile native and Auburn commit, has accounted for 20 touchdowns on the season. Smith suffered a leg injury in a 28-0 win over Southwest two weeks ago. Smith did not play last week in a 7-0 victory over Pearl River. The Bulldog defense is one of the strongest in the state and gives up only 6.9 points per game.

Kickoff is 2 p.m. at A.L. May Memorial Stadium in Perkinston and can be heard on 104.3 in Brookhaven and on colinathletics.com.