OCEAN SPRINGS — With Crusin’ on the Coast bringing muscle cars to Mississippi beaches, Scorebook Live third-ranked Ocean Springs used a dominating defense Thursday night to cruise past Biloxi 35-0.
Behind a defense led by Kevin Murray, who had seven stops and a fumble recovery, and Keshawn Thomas, who added six tackles, Ocean Springs (6-0, 3-0 Region 4-6A) stuffed the Biloxi running game, limiting the Indians to just 54 yards on 24 carries, with two consecutive carries in the third quarter accounting for 46 of those yards.
“We couldn’t get anything going in the running game,” said Biloxi coach Katlan French. “It seems we were hit in the backfield the entire first half.”
“The defensive line has played tremendously over the last three weeks,” said Ocean Springs coach Blake Pennock. “We are winning the line of scrimmage and I am very happy with the way we’ve played.”
Over the first two quarters, Biloxi (1-5, 0-3) only managed 2 yards rushing on 15 carries. The lack of production in the running game, in turn, led to difficulties in the passing game.
“When you stop the run,” Murray said, “it’s easier to stop the pass. You know the pass is coming and you can pin your ears back and go after the pass.”
Thomas said the front seven stopping the run was the key. “It allows the linebackers and safeties to flow to the ball and the defensive backs to cover the receivers.”
Trace Carter also had a nice night defensively with four stops, a sack, and an interception.
The Greyhounds defense was also opportunistic, turning the ball over four times — three times on fumbles, including the opening kickoff, and once on an interception.
“We are still hurting ourselves,” French said. “When you play a team like Ocean Springs, a team that can score a lot of points, you put yourself in a bind when you turn the ball over four times.”
While the Ocean Springs defense was stopping Biloxi’s offense, the Greyhounds offense was battering Biloxi defense behind David Humphries, who carried 22 times for 231 yards, although he did not reach the endzone.
Putting the ball in the endzone was left to Bray Hubbard, who threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two more.
“We played physical football upfront tonight, offensively and defensively,” Pennock said, noting the effectiveness of the running game opened up the Greyhounds’ offense. “We can pass the ball better when the defense has to put more players to stopping the run.”
Humphries said this was the first time he went over 200 yards in a game. “I just had to run behind my blockers,” he said. “When we are running well, we don’t allow teams to focus on just one part of our game, but they have to focus on the running game and the passing game.”
While Humphries was driving the ball down the field with his legs, Hubbard continued his hot hand at quarterback again, hitting three-quarters of his passes by going 12-of-16 for 139 yards and scores of 21, 15, and 18 yards to Holton White, who caught nine passes for 109 yards.
In addition to his throwing, Hubbard called his own number 17 times for 62 yards and scoring runs of 1 and 19 yards. The only missed marks on Hubbard’s game Thursday were two interceptions. While the first was a missed linebacker, Bryce Hooker, who jumped the route and returned the ball to the Ocean Springs 28, the second pick was an athletic play by Biloxi defensive lineman R.J. Moss.
Moss, who is committed to play at Mississippi State after graduation, blocked Hubbard’s pass at the line of scrimmage and then made a great play to come up with the pick, returning the ball 37 yards to the Greyhounds 30.
“He just made a tremendous play,” Pennock said, “particularly the return after the pick. Top players make great plays.”
Despite the win, Pennock is not willing to make any observations about where Ocean Springs is in the region race. ”There’s too much football left to play,” he said. “We are taking it one game at a time.”
Ocean Springs has four more region games left, but three are on the road: Pascagoula, Gulfport, and Harrison Central. Only the Oct. 22 game against St. Martin remains at home.
Biloxi quarterback Deljay Bailey had a good night for the Indians, going 18-of-25 for 170 yards. Deon Hardy was Bailey’s top target on the night, snagging 10 passes for 110 yards.
While Biloxi has just one win in its first six games, French noted the Indians first six opponents are a combined 30-4. He said he expects the second half of the Indians schedule to go a little better.
“We’ve had an extremely tough six games to open the season,” he said. “However, we are starting to play teams that are like us.”