By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – For the Northeast Tigers, Thursday night’s game was an optimistic controlled scrimmage.
In his second game on the offensive side of the football, Lafayette freshman Jeremy Liggins got more crucial snaps at quarterback.
Same for sophomore quarterback Jerrard Randall.
And North Pontotoc running back Mitchell Cunningham flashed some brilliant open-field moves.
But the Gulf Coast Bulldogs proved to be a difficult foe.
Recovering from last week’s loss that dropped them of the No. 1 position in the nation, the No. 10 Bulldogs ran past the Tigers 28-14.
“We did try to compete,” Northeast head coach Ricky Smither said. “I’m really proud of the offensive line tonight.
“If we’re able to run against Gulf Coast like this, and against Co-Lin, that really says something about this team.”
Among the bright spots for the Tigers (2-3), Cunningham lgged 141 yards rushing.
Gulf Coast (4-1) countered with 204 yards by sophomore Antwon Wells. Two or three plays where he carried the football really knocked the wind out of Northeast’s sails.
The first was a 39-yard burst to the Northeast 13-yard line late in the first quarter. That set up a 1-yard sneak by Colton Kane for a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, a third-down penalty kept a Bulldogs drive alive, and a play later, Wells scored on a 9-yard burst. Gulf Coast added a 13-yard scramble by Kane late in the half, and the Bulldogs took a 21-0 lead to the locker room.
The game threatened to get out of hand on the first possession of the third quarter. A 44-yard run by Wells set up a 14-yard pass to Ishmel Morrow to put Gulf Coast up 28-0.
After the kickoff, Northeast’s Cunningham ripped off a 63-yard scoring run. That was followed on the Tigers next possession by a 56-yard scoring pass from Liggins to Khalil Stinson.
“Gulf Coast did a good job taking away what we do best,” said Smither, whose Tigers are still 2-0 in North play. “We’ve played a hard schedule with the South teams and Northwest. We’ve got to come in, circle the wagons, and refocus.”
Coahoma is at Northeast Oct. 5 for homecoming.