SENATOBIA – Clinging to a four-point lead as Copiah-Lincoln drove downfield late in the fourth quarter, the Northwest defense delivered a pair of huge stops on back-to-back sacks by Robert Hentz II and Justin Jackson, as No. 3 Northwest escaped with a 19-15 victory against the eighth-ranked Wolves at Bobby Franklin Field on Thursday night.
Northwest improved to 4-0 overall with the win as Co-Lin dropped to 3-1 on the season. The Rangers also improved the all-time series record against the Wolves to 25-15-1.
After forcing Co-Lin into a three-and-out on the game's first offensive possession, the Rangers scored quickly on a short 5-yard carry from Urriah Shephard that capped off a 4-play, 35-yard drive that spanned just over a minute. Less than a minute later, Northwest got on the board again with a team safety to make it a 9-0 lead with 11:57 left in the first quarter.
Northwest continued its offensive momentum on the next drive but were turned away by the Wolves' defense on a short 4th & goal, as Jaquerrious Williams was denied on a short carry inside the 1-yard line.
Williams and the Rangers would pick up some redemption later in the first half however, as the Tupelo product scampered into the end zone on a 21-yard rush less than a minute into the second quarter to extend the Northwest lead to 16-0.
Northwest would find its way into Co-Lin territory three more times in the first half but were unable to reach the red zone, heading into the locker room with the 16-0 advantage.
Cole Catalano provided the Rangers with their only second half points on the opening drive of the third quarter, as the Oxford native capped off a 13-play, 57-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal, tying his career-best and pushing the Northwest lead to 19-0.
Co-Lin's offense began to awaken midway through the third quarter as Danny White hit Antoine Robinson on a 37-yard touchdown pass to finally get the Wolves on the board.
In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Wolves would strike again on what was thought to be an incomplete pass to Chris Calvert. The play instead was ruled a fumble, giving Tyrus Wheat a 24-yard scoop and score touchdown. Co-Lin then converted the two-point attempt as White connected with Malik Heath, bringing the score to 19-15.
Northwest responded with a nice drive downfield but a 37-yard missed field goal from Catalano gave the Wolves the ball and momentum with less than eight minutes remaining. Co-Lin managed to get deep into Ranger territory twice over the final 7:40 but were denied both times on 4th down, including the game-clinching sack by Justin Jackson that gave Northwest the ball and victory formation with 1:15 left to go.
Despite being held to less than 100 yards of total offense in the second half, the Rangers finished with 294 total yards with 186 coming on the ground. Shephard led the charge with 13 carries for 115 yards and an average of 8.8 rushing yards per carry. Jack Walker completed 14 of his 20 passes for 108 yards and no interceptions.
Similar to the first three games of the season, the Northwest defense proved to be a balanced unit with several players serving as key contributors. Five players combined for 30 tackles on the night, with sophomore Quentin Wilfawn leading the way with eight total stops, two hurries and a sack. Christain Cain and Dee Rule earned six tackles each, while Hentz and Jayce Rogers combined for five tackles apiece. Additionally, Rogers was credited with three breakups along with 2.5 tackles-for-loss from Dareon Goodrum.
Clark finished 19-for-43 with 263 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the loss for Co-Lin. The Wolves were limited to just 49 rushing yards but picked up 263 through the air, including six receptions and 135 yards from Robinson. Khehlan Kennedy finished as the Wolves' leading defender, tallying 10 tackles and a sack.
Northwest will step back into MACJC North Division play next Thursday night (September 26) with a trip to Holmes. The Bulldogs (1-3, 1-0 MACJC North) are coming off a 14-6 road win at Northeast.
Kickoff from Goodman is slated for 6:30 p.m. Links to live stats and video broadcast can be found at nwccrangers.com.
By: Brian Letz
Northwest Sports information