Gulf Coast, Pearl River rivalry heats up each year

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - The rivalry between Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Pearl River Community College is rekindled each year the two teams meet on the football field.

No. 10 Gulf Coast squeaked past Pearl River 19-17 Thu., Oct. 3, to pick up its seventh win in the last eight tries against the Wildcats.

At one point, however, the rivalry was in favor of Pearl River for 18 straight years.

Larry Strohm helped end that long losing streak for Gulf Coast in 1966 when the Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 33 to 0 at Gulfport High School.

"My grandkids are playing but I told them I had to come to this game and they gave me permission to be here," Strohm said. "It's a big rivalry. I love to come to the ball games especially when we play Pearl River. Nothing better than beating a river rat."

"I feel like this year we've got our team ready and we're ready to go," Pearl River sophomore Collin Parker said. "The rivalry between us is intense. I've been here for two years and every year it's just crazy."

The rivalry has always been intense, but even more so after Thursday after the Wildcats' mascot stole a very important piece of the Gulf Coast sideline with an act of bravery that ignited competitive anger.

It's known as "The Rat Trap." It's pretty self-explanatory in terms of the physical description. But it's also a reminder for the Wildcats from the Bulldogs that they'll always be known as the River Rats in this rivalry.

During the first quarter, the Wildcats' mascot was successful with an attempt to steal the trap from Gulf Coast's side of the stadium and bringing it to Pearl River's sideline before a photoshoot with the Pearl River cheerleaders.

While PRCC campus police had to recover Gulf Coast's creation, the Wildcats' mascot did its job. It temporarily ignited the Pearl River football team, fans and cheerleaders, who all seemed to enjoy the successful sneak.