PITTSBURG — Behind a dominant defensive display, No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast pushed past No. 2 Lackawanna 24-13 in the NJCAA National Championship game hosted at Carnie Smith Stadium.
The Bulldogs held Lackawanna to only nine first downs, and held the Falcons to only 3-14 on third down.
Quarterback Chance Lovertich moved his record to 57-1 as a starting quarterback, dating back to his time as a high school athlete.
However, both Lovertich and Lackawanna quarterback Matt Cavallaro struggled at points to gain yardage through the passing game.
Cavallaro completed 13-of-29 passes for 114 yards, along with two interceptions and one touchdown.
Lovertich completed 10-of-25 attempts for 118 yards and one interception.
Both teams entered Thursday night with top-five defenses, and both front seven’s traded punches throughout.
Falcon Tyler Long notched 16 tackles. Teammate Brandon Henderson-Rooks added ten tackles and two sacks.
Wideout Marquise Bridges led the Bulldogs to the first touchdown of the game, spinning through multiple Falcon defenders and moving the ball to the goal-line from 30-yards out.
Austin Bolton punched the ball into the endzone on the next play to give the Bulldogs an early lead.
Both teams defenses continued to step up for the rest of the first quarter, with MGC extended their lead with a field goal kick to capture a 10-0 lead.
Lackawanna captured their only offensive touchdown in the second frame, when quarterback Cavallaro in the endzone for an eight-yard touchdown to cut into the lead.
Lackawanna took the lead before the end of the half, on a Lovertich strip sack that the Falcons recovered for a touchdown.
Mississippi Gulf Coast took the lead early in the second half on another Bolton touchdown.
Deondre House sealed the MGC win with a 48-yard touchdown midway in the fourth quarter.