Rangers to face Itawamba next Thursday in Fulton
Photo: Northwest quarterback Keegan Patterson threw for a touchdown and ran for one of his own in Thursday’s 27-3 victory against Pearl River. (Kevin Pitts/nwccrangers.com)
Credit: Northwest Mississippi Community College sports information
After being held to one touchdown the week before, Northwest made three trips to the end zone on Thursday, as the 13th-ranked Rangers scored a 27-3 victory against Pearl River at Bobby Franklin Field.
Northwest compiled over 300 yards of total offense for the second straight week, improving to 2-1 on the season. The Rangers also captured their sixth straight victory against the Wildcats (0-3), narrowing Pearl River’s lead in the all-time series to 26-15.
Defense was once again a huge factor for the Rangers, as Keshawn Davila interrupted the Wildcats’ opening drive with a fumble recovery. Although Davila returned it back for a touchdown, a personal foul penalty on Northwest negated the score, but gave the Rangers the ball in good field position.
With the ball across midfield, Northwest marched inside the red zone, only to be denied a touchdown once again on a third down incomplete pass. However, Northwest got points from Jackson Uselton, as the reigning MACCC Special Teams Player of the Week drilled a 26-yard field goal to make it a 3-0 lead.
Pearl River’s offense responded on the next possession by driving into Northwest territory, aided by a 30-yard keeper from Senatobia native Ty Hullette. The Wildcats would knock on the door of the red zone, only to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt by Corblin McGinn. The kick missed short, keeping the Wildcats off the scoreboard.
With roughly five minutes left in the opening quarter, Northwest took over from their own 23-yard line. Facing fourth and long, Shade Foster faked out everyone in the stadium, keeping it himself for a massive 55-yard gain. The play put the Rangers on the edge of the red zone, but a field goal attempt from Uselton missed wide left as the first quarter began to draw to a close.
After forcing a Pearl River punt to open the second quarter, the Rangers’ offense rest with another long drive downfield. A 16-yard carry from Xavier Davis helped Northwest get inside the Wildcats’ 30-yard line and a 20-yard completion from Keegan Patterson to Cam Harris put the Rangers inside the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Patterson connected on a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to Kyler Hutton, helping Northwest stretch its lead to 10-0.
Pearl River would use a 10-play drive on its next possession to finally make a dent in the scoreboard, as McGinn nailed a 47-yard field goal with 6:04 left, trimming the gap to 10-3.
Although the Wildcats spoiled the shutout, it didn’t take long for Northwest to regain momentum. On a four-play, 76-yard drive, Patterson connected with Harris on a 32-yard reception before scoring himself from 22 yards out. Uselton followed with the point-after attempt, bringing the score to 17-3 with 3:51 remaining in the first half.
Just before halftime, the Northwest defense stepped up once more to prevent a potential Pearl River score. After the Wildcats crossed midfield and got inside the 35-yard line, Hullette was picked off by Charles Thomas at the 11-yard line, taking the Rangers into the locker room with a 14-point advantage.
Things were largely uneventful for both teams in the third quarter, as Northwest and Pearl River traded three punts apiece. Two of Foster’s punts were over 40 yards, including a 50-yarder that was downed at the eight-yard line by the Wildcats.
Although neither team scored in the third quarter, Northwest began a drive with 2:13 left that would carry over into the fourth. The nine-play, 41-yard possession ended with a short touchdown run from Cam Young, helping the Rangers move the needle to 24-3.
Pearl River’s next possession resulted in a three-and-out and Northwest took over from its own 33-yard line with 11:37 to go. From there, the Rangers embarked on a long 16-play, 64-yard drive that burned over 10 minutes off the clock. The end result was Uselton’s second field goal of the evening, a 20-yard attempt that put the game away for good with 1:23 left.
Northwest racked up 364 yards of total offense, led by 208 rushing yards. Pearl River was held to just 192 yards of offense, with 96 apiece on the ground and through the air. The Wildcats were also left with no touchdowns for the third straight game.
Patterson finished 9-for-16 for Northwest, passing for 156 yards and a touchdown. His top target, Harris, finished with three catches for 93 yards, while Foster came away as the Rangers’ leading rusher, thanks to his 55-yard fake punt attempt. Davis logged 52 yards on eight carries, while D’mariun Perteet collected 47 yards on 11 attempts.
For Pearl River, Hullette finished 10-for-17 with 96 yards and an interception. His top receiver, Jordan Coleman, logged 50 yards on two receptions, while Kayvon Barned totaled 39 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
Defensively, D.J. Burgess tallied 11 tackles and three tackles-for-loss to lead the Rangers. JyKeon Cunningham also collected eight tackles, while Davila accounted for six tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a fumble recovery.
Eli Hackbarth led the Wildcats with eight tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Zavier Fairley and Dalton Lee also collected six tackles each.
Marquis McCoy helped Pearl River with 91 yards on four kickoff returns, while JaBrysten Abram logged a 38-yard kickoff return. Foster totaled 124 yards on three punts, while McGinn punted for 168 yards on five attempts.
Northwest will now turn its attention to next week, as the Rangers make the short trip to Itawamba on Thursday, September 28. Coached by former Northwest assistant Travis Macon, the Indians (0-3, 0-1 MACCC North) are coming off a close rivalry loss to Northeast, but will certainly be hungry for a victory on the home field in Fulton.
Northwest leads the all-time series against ICC by a 43-26-1 margin and the Rangers have won three straight meetings against the Indians. However, Itawamba has given the Rangers fits in recent years, earning wins against Northwest in 2017 and 2019, while dropping a close 16-14 decision in 2020.
Kickoff for next week’s contest is scheduled for 7 P.M. from Eaton Field in Fulton. Pregame coverage with Tyler Springs and Russell Copeland will begin at 6:30 P.M. on Ranger TV, Action News 5 Plus and WHCQ-LD 8.