Execution key for GCCC against Co-Lin in Mississippi Bowl matchup
By ADAM HOLT
Chances are pretty good that the Garden City Community College's matchup with No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) in the Mississippi Bowl on Sunday ends up like many of the Broncbusters' earlier games this season — high-scoring and pretty close.
Aside from perhaps the two games it played it played against Butler, Garden City (6-4) never looked overmatched. The theme in the Busters' other two losses boils down to execution.
In a 63-49 loss to Hutchinson in September, and a 54-47 loss to Coffeyville in October, the gameplans on both sides of the ball seemed effective, but actually making the plays was another story.
So can the Busters make the plays, starting att 2 p.m. Sunday, at Biloxi Indians Stadium in Biloxi, Miss.?
"Both offenses have played well all year," GCCC head coach Jeff Tatum said. "And it comes down to who can get back down to the rhythm they had at the end of the season."
Garden City averages 38.4 points per game and 486.8 yards. Co-Lin (9-2) scores 31.6 points and totals 370.3 yards per game. And the Wolfpack have finished the season on a roll, taking down ranked opponents in the MACJC playoffs. Co-Lin beat East Mississippi, 47-46, and Mississippi Gulf Coast, 41-37 to claim the conference title.
Both of those wins were surprising upsets. It took a kick return for a touchdown with 9 seconds left for Co-Lin to beat East Mississippi.
The Wolves are led by quarterback Chandler Rogers, who's thrown for 2,793 yards and 25 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Darius Guy has rushed for 874 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
Co-Lin spreads the ball around to a number of receivers. Joe Craig Jr. has a team-high 52 catches for 598 yards and six touchdowns. Darren Anderson (614 yards, five touchdowns), Casey Gladney (242 yards and three touchdowns) and Marquis Hayes (581 yards and five touchdowns) round out a skilled receiving corps.
"Coach (Glenn) Davis and his staff have done a real good job with that," Tatum said. "They try not to be one-dimensional, or give one guy, where if you take him away, we're gonna get beat. What they try to do is spread the ball and get everybody involved on offense, where you have to guard all aspects of the field."
The Busters totaled just 17 points in their last outing, a 58-17 loss in the Region VI playoffs, but that was against a Grizzlies team that's playing for the national championship.
For over one half of that game, Garden City's defense executed, for the most part. Missed tackles leading to big running plays have been the biggest knock on the Busters' defense. With stout execution, they held the Grizzlies to 21 first-half points, and forced punts on a stretch of three straight possessions.
Meanwhile, drops and turnovers have been about the only thing to stop the Garden City offense. Although KJCCC offensive player of the year Nick Marshall has thrown for 18 touchdowns, he's also thrown 19 interceptions, 14 of them coming in the four losses.
But even with all the turnovers, the Busters still scored an average of 31.5 points in those losses.
Garden City's also averaging just over seven penalties for 60.1 yards per game. Cut down on those, as well as the drops and turnovers, and an already potent GCCC offense could be even scarier.
"That's always been our key deal," wide receiver Raul Silva said. "Honestly, I don't feel like there's been a defense that's stopped us this year; if anybody's stopped our offense, it's been ourselves. So I mean, the coaches just reiterating that, we are ranked, you know, in the nation — we're up there. Obviously we're good, but... penalties, catching the ball, making the plays that we know we should, if we do that I feel like we have an excellent shot."
Co-Lin's defense has 22 interceptions, but is still allowing 252.7 passing yards and 166.5 rushing yards per game.
"I know they've got some interceptions, but at the same time, they're last in their league in pass defense," Tatum said. "And what that tells you is they take a lot of gambles."
So does the Busters offense. As much as it might have hurt them in some of their losses, it no doubt helped them in their wins, too.
Both teams should score points. Taking advantage of each possession will be the key for both offenses.
"We can't have any turnovers," Marshall said. "We've just got to execute to perfection."
What: Fifth-annual Mississippi Bowl
When: 2 p.m., Dec. 2
Where: Biloxi Indians Stadium, Biloxi High School, Biloxi, Miss.
Who: Garden City Community College Broncbusters (6-4, 4-3 KJCCC) vs. Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wolfpack (9-2, 5-1 MACJC)
Twitter: @GCTSports, @GCTBusterReport
Garden City Broncbusters
Aug. 25 — at Independence, W 56-49
Sept. 1 — CISCO, TEXAS, W 24-19
Sept. 8 — HUTCHINSON, L 63-49
Sept. 22 — at Air Force Prep, W 47-21
Sept. 29 — FT. SCOTT, W 42-13
Oct. 6 — at Butler, L 84-13
Oct. 13 — at Highland, W 28-17
Oct. 20 — DODGE CITY, W 61-20
Oct. 27 — COFFEYVILLE, L 54-47
Region VI Playoffs
Nov. 4 — at Butler, L 58-17
Sept. 1 — at Northeast Mississippi, W 33-14
Sept. 6 — vs. Northwest Mississippi, L 42-21
Sept. 13 — vs. East Central Mississippi, W 47-10
Sept. 20 — at Hinds (Miss.), W 21-6
Sept. 27 — vs. Jones County (Miss.), W 33-29
Oct. 4 — at Itawamba (Miss.), W 17-14
Oct. 13 — at Pearl River (Miss.), W 44-21
Oct. 20 — vs. Mississippi Gulf Coast, L 54-21
Oct. 25 — at Southwest Mississippi, W 23-10
Nov. 3 — at East Mississippi, W 47-46
Nov. 10 — at Misissippi Gulf Coast, W 41-37