PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Gulf Coast's opponent on Thursday may not be ranked, but the Pearl River Wildcats are coming off a 17-9 upset of No. 1 Co-Lin Saturday.
The defense for Pearl River (2-4, 1-3) scored one of their two touchdowns to give them their first MACJC win this season. It will need to be the strong suit yet again if they want to beat Gulf Coast for the first time in nine years.
"[Pearl River] is one of the most athletic defensive fronts that we've seen all year," Mississippi Gulf Coast head coach Chad Huff said. "They're really talented in the secondary and very, very dangerous. I think [they're] a well-coached football team that's playing very well right now."
The Bulldogs offense has averaged 35 points in the last three MACJC games -- all of them wins. Ocean Springs product Ishmel Morrow, who leads the state with 35 receptions, has become the most reliable target for quarterback A.J. Erdely.
PRCC and MGCCC are separated by 30 miles. When the two football programs meet Thursday, it'll be the 93rd matchup between the two teams dating back to 1926.
"It's a big rivalry game," Morrow said. "They're coming in fired up. They're coming in off a big win and we just have to make sure they don't do that to us. We can't let them do that."
Gulf Coast's defense had its best performance in last Thursday's 37-10 win over Southwest, allowing just 210 total yards to the Bears. The only touchdown Southwest scored came late in the fourth quarter with Gulf Coast holding onto a 34-point lead at the time.
The Bulldogs (5-1, 4-0) credit their early-season success to the coaching staff and an impeccable work ethic from the players.
"It starts at practice," sophomore safety Neiko Robinson said. "We had a good practice Monday and then fell off Tuesday. [Pearl River] has nothing to lose. They're going to come in playing hard because it's a rivalry game."
Kickoff at A.L. May Memorial Stadium is set for 7 p.m.