This Sunday, the No. 5 Blinn Buccaneers (9-1) and No. 9 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs (9-2) will battle it out in the fourth annual Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi, MS. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Biloxi’s Indian Stadium.
This will mark Blinn’s fourth consecutive bowl appearance and first for head coach Ronny Feldman, who is finishing up his inaugural season at the helm for the Buccaneers. Last year, the Bucs upset the No. 4 ranked Arizona Western Matadors 31-27 in the CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl in Copperas Cove.
The two power-house programs have combined for eight NJCAA national championships, with Blinn winning in 1995, 1996, 2006 and 2009. The 2009 squad was led by All-American quarterback Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“We’re looking forward to representing Blinn College, our conference and the Brenham community in one of the top-notch junior college bowls in the country,” said Feldman. “It’s a great match-up between two caliber football programs.”
The Buccaneers began the 2011 season ranked No. 4, and then spent five weeks at No. 1 before dropping a 37-34 overtime decision to Tyler on Nov. 5 in the first round of the SWJCFC playoffs. Mississippi Gulf Coast opened the season as the NJCAA'S No. 2 ranked team, but lost twice to rival East Mississippi Community College, who is undefeated and playing for the national championship vs. No. 1 Arizona Western in the El Toro Bowl on Dec. 3.
The Bucs finished third nationally in total offense, averaging 513 yards per game with 5,130 total yards on the season. In their 10 games played, the Bucs averaged 51.5 per game and have scored 50 or more points five times in 2011.
Blinn is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Eric Matthews (Brookshire Royal), who threw for 2,399 yards and 20 TD's in 2011. He also racked up 717 yards and 13 TD'S on the ground. The Bucs offense also relies on sophomore running back Marion Grice (Aldine Nimitz), who ran for 1,052 yards and 16 TD'S on the season, and sophomore wide receiver Xavier Maxwell (Humble), who caught 24 passes for 630 yards and 6 TD'S.
Mississippi Gulf Coast won the MAJC South Division title in 2011 and made its fifth straight trip to the MACJC title game. The Bulldogs feature running back James Gillum (931 yards, 7 TD'S) and NJCAA All-American wide receiver Javon Bell (822 yards, 8 TD'S).
“We’re facing an outstanding football team with a top 10 defense and an explosive running game,” said Feldman. “Both teams play similar styles and the game will most likely come down to the fourth quarter and who makes the fewest mistakes.”
On Friday both coaches will take part in the Mississippi Bowl news conference set for 5 p.m. at the Bay Breeze Event Center on Keesler Air Force Base, followed by the Mississippi Bowl Banquet. On Saturday, both teams will hold walk-through practices at Biloxi Indian Stadium and visit local Boys and Girls Club centers in the Biloxi area.
The NJCAA’s official broadcasting partner, iHigh, will provide LIVE and archived coverage of the Mississippi Bowl Game on NJCAA TV and the game can also be heard on www.kwhi.com.
More information on the game is available at www.mississippibowl.com or www.buccaneersports.com.