(228Sports Contributor Jeremy Forehand is responsible for most of this content)
It seems as if the only thing Gulfport needed to return to its early season success was for the beginning of region play to arrive.
The Admirals won their second consecutive league game in impressive fashion Friday night, hammering home-standing D’Iberville 56-32 in Region 4-7A play. Gulfport, under the direction of first-year head coach Blake Pennock, is now 4-3 overall but 2-0 in league action and has scored a total of 98 points in the two region wins. D’Iberville drops to 0-2 in the region race and 2-5 overall.
Gulfport started the season off with two straight wins before dropping three consecutive games heading into its open week on the schedule. Since that break, the Admirals have righted the ship and all their flags are flying with a strong tailwind.
Admiral senior standout signal-caller Nico Williams threw for 249 yards completing all 10 of his passes in the process and tossing three touchdowns in the win over the Warriors. Teammate and tailback Dakoryeon Payton also ran for three scores as Gulfport controlled the game throughout for the most part and actually led 56-19 in the final minute of the third frame.
Williams hit Cam Joseph with a pair of scoring strikes in the first half, from 32 yards out with 3:05 left in the first quarter and on an 88-yard bomb just before halftime to make it 35-13 Admirals at intermission. Peyton also had scoring runs from 15 yards away and on a 1-yard plunge in the first half, while Rezion Barney added a 47-yard scoring scamper as well for GHS. Joseph finished with three total catches for 127 yards and the two scores.
In the second half, Gulfport’s Cooper Crosby scored twice on a 7-yard run and a 22-yard touchdown toss from Williams, while Peyton added a 77-yard touchdown run to complete the GHS scoring.
The Warriors got four touchdowns from senior standout running back Kevin Rodgers in the game, as he scored on runs of 65, 57 and 5 yards out and hauled in a 61 yard scoring strike from Connor Jones. His 57-yard scoring scamper cut the deficit to just 21-13 late in the first period, but that would be as close as the Warriors would get.
Omar Johnson also had a 40-yard interception return for DHS late in the game.
Payton finished the game with a team-high 97 yards rushing on just five carries for the Admirals. Gulfport looks for three straight region wins on the road at St. Martin next week, while D’Iberville also is on the road at Harrison Central. The Admirals were coming off a 43-0 thumping of longtime arch-rival Biloxi last week at historic Milner Stadium in the 101st renewal of that longtime series, while the Warriors feel on the road 43-13 to Ocean Springs. Gulfport and OSHS, Pennock’s former team, are tied atop the Region 4-7A standings each at 2-0.