PERKINSTON, MS (MGCCC) - The Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs are, without a doubt, the underdogs going into its first-round game in the MACJC playoffs against the East Mississippi Lions, but they're in strong belief that the second matchup with EMCC this year will be different.
How exactly it'll be altered is to be determined. Gulf Coast lost 45-7 to East Mississippi in the two teams' first meeting of the season September 8 in which the Lions outgained the Bulldogs in total yards 514-176.
"We're playing with a lot more confidence and understanding that we've got a really good football team," MGCCC head coach Chad Huff said. "If we play the way we're capable of, then we have an opportunity to beat any team. That's the mentality we have to go with, we have to match their level of play as well and I think we're capable of doing that."
After losing three of its first four games this season, MGCCC (5-4) countered with four straight wins before losing its season finale at Jones County last Thursday. Because of that, the Bulldogs had to wait until the last day of the MACJC regular season to know for sure they'd be postseason bound.
Alas, the Bulldogs are confident as they enter the playoffs for a record 10th consecutive season.
"We were more individualized back then and now we're a lot more of a team," MGCCC sophomore offensive lineman Kevin Haas said. "We've come together a lot since [September]. We've made big leaps as a team and as a group."
"Now we understand that little things will get us beat because it has in the past," said sophomore linebacker Reggio Dean, who is tied for the team lead with four sacks along with Jaylin Dailey. "We've matured a whole lot and we've come together as a team. We're not just all individuals anymore."
The key number to reach for the Bulldogs this season has been 30 points. When doing so, they're undefeated in four tries. When scoring 29 or less, they have just one win in five games.
Florida State transfer De'Andre Johnson will be the guy Gulf Coast must try to contain. He leads East Mississippi in passing yards (2,110), passing touchdowns (22) and rushing yards (563).
Johnson accounted for 291 total yards and three scores in the win over Gulf Coast and has helped the Lions (8-1) score no less than 42 points during the current eight-game win streak.
Kickoff Saturday in Scooba is set for 2 p.m.