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Northwest Falls Short in MACJC Title Defense

Photo courtesy of Northwest
Photo courtesy of Northwest

Northwest’s bid to defend its MACJC Championship fell just short on Saturday afternoon at Sullivan-Windham Field, with the Rangers dropping a hard-fought 38-30 decision at East Mississippi.

EMCC (10-1) won its fifth conference championship in the last nine seasons, while Northwest fell to 9-3-1 all-time in championship games.

Northwest (9-2) outgained EMCC 405-317, controlled the time of possession and sacked De’Andre Johnson six times but two costly interceptions led to two Lion touchdowns, which proved to be the difference in the game.

After Northwest won the coin toss and elected to go on defense first, EMCC took its opening drive of the game 63 yards on six plays, capped by Jacquez Horsley’s 8-yard touchdown run.

Northwest responded with confidence on its first drive, covering 62 yards on eight plays and knotting the game at 7-7 on Clay Holgorsen’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Romeel Cochran.

Wesley Bush’s team-leading fifth interception of the year setup Northwest for its second scoring drive minutes later. Four straight running plays, highlighted by Cole Rotenberry’s 34-yard gain, allowed Marquisian Chapman to give the Rangers a 13-7 lead with 6:57 left in the first quarter. The ensuing PAT was blocked.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the touchdown allowed EMCC to start its next drive at their own 41-yard line and the Lions proceeded to drive 58 yards on five plays, capped by De’Andre Johnson’s 46-yard quarterback keeper, to go back in front 14-13.

Three plays later it was the EMCC defense who made the momentum-shifting play, with Ryan Lee making a splendid one-handed interception of Holgorsen and taking it 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-13 Lions.

Northwest answered once again, this time with a lengthy 11-play, 66-yard drive, capped by Quarderman Sloan’s 2-yard touchdown run. The Rangers benefited from a pass interference call in the end zone and face mask penalty before punching it in.

After holding EMCC to a 24-yard Taylor Crabtree field goal, Northwest marched down the field for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:09 left in the first half.

Cam Bowman entered for an injured Holgorsen and completed 3-of-4 passes for 54 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Cochran, his second of the night, to put the Rangers on top 27-24 at halftime.

Northwest’s opening drive of the second half stalled out at their own 40-yard line, and after a shanked punt, EMCC took over with fantastic field position at its own 40-yard line.

EMCC scored seven plays later to go back in front, 31-27, benefiting from back-to-back pass interference calls that placed the ball at the Rangers’ 2-yard line. Backup quarterback Vijay Miller scored a play later from two yards out.

Bowman was intercepted on the Rangers’ ensuing drive by Alex Lipscomb and returned it to the Northwest 48-yard line. Four plays later, Johnson hit Raphael Leonard for a 3-yard touchdown.

Northwest had only given up 20 points in the third quarter all season in 10 previous games but allowed 14 unanswered and trailed by 38-27 after three quarters.

After holding EMCC to back-to-back punts, Northwest strung together a lengthy scoring drive but had to settle for a 30-yard Drake McCarter field goal. Northwest traveled 77 yards on 12 plays, 60 yards coming from Sloan on the ground, but stalled on the EMCC 11-yard line with 3:31 to play.

Northwest’s on-side kick attempt was recovered by EMCC’s Daniel Crowell at the Rangers’ 44-yard line and the Lions were able to run the clock all the way down to 12 seconds remaining in the game.

Taking over from its own 13-yard line with no timeouts, Bowman completed a pair of passes to Darius Thomas and KyKy Austin out to the 40-yard line before the clock ran out.

Northwest will now await a bowl invitation in the coming week, with NJCAA bowl bids opening at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 15. There are eight available bowls in Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Iowa, Illinois and Mississippi.

Courtesy of Kevin Maloney and Northwest Sports Information

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Adam Brown
Adam Brown
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