GAUTIER — Gautier’s big fourth quarter led to a huge 34-7 home win against East Central Friday night. The victory moves the Gators to 5-3 overall and 3-0 in Region 4-5A play but more importantly, it secures a berth in the upcoming Class 5A South State playoffs for GHS. The Hornets fall to 2-6 on the year and 0-3 in league action.
The Gators were led by sophomore running back Soloman Baggett. Baggett carried the ball 14 times and racked up 237 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. With starting quarterback Trey Irving out, senior wide receiver Kelvin Beavers took the reins under center for the Gators. Beavers accounted for 150 total yards on offense in the win.
The Gators got out to a hot start in the first quarter on both sides of the ball. After forcing a turnover on downs, Baggett found the endzone on a 40-yard run to give Gautier an early 7-0 lead.
Senior Gator CJ McCreary snagged an interception on the following drive, setting up a 48-yard scamper from Beavers. McCreary was brought in on offense to finish the drive, punching it in from two yards out to extend the GHS lead to 14-0. The Hornets avoided the first-half shutout with a six-yard touchdown run from quarterback Mason Prouty. Going into halftime, Gautier held a 14-7 lead over East Central.
After a scoreless third quarter for both squads, the Gators clung onto the seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Baggett broke off a 28-yard touchdown run to give GHS a 20-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the game.
With the Hornets threatening in the red zone, senior Chris Nelson intercepted Prouty’s pass in the endzone to stall East Central’s drive. GHS was able to capitalize on the turnover. Baggett continued his stellar night with a 66-yard touchdown run, giving Gautier a comfortable 27-7 lead with six minutes remaining in the game.
Backup running back Kasin Thomas added a 10-yard touchdown run for good measure late in the game to bring the final score to 34-7.
Gautier’s win continues the Gators’ historic edge over the Hornets as they are now 17-6 against East Central.
The Gators, now 5-3 on the season, will be back at Vaughn-Wallace Stadium next Friday night as they face the Stone County Wildcats. The Hornets, now 2-6, will be back on the road again in a matchup against the Vancleave Bulldogs next week, as they look for their first district win. Both teams then wrap up the regular season the following week.