By Samantha Whittle
Football has been a huge success in Northwest athletics this season by improving to 10-1 overall. The Gulf Coast Bulldogs ended their season 8-3 with the loss against Northwest. On Nov. 7, after 16 years of waiting, the Rangers claimed its ninth football title in MACJC history by defeating Gulf Coast 34-24.
Throughout the state championship game, the Rangers achieved 14 first downs, 346 total offensive yards, 203 passing yards, 143 rushing yards, 7-55 penalty yards, 3-14 3rd downs, 1-3 fourth downs and reached a time of possession of 29:09.
During the first quarter, Northwest and Gulf Coast tied at seven points with a 13-yard pass to Gardner Minshew from Marquisian Chapman and a kick by Jim Speights. MGCCC gained the first seven points five minutes after the Rangers’ score from A.J. Erdely’s 6-yard run and a kick from Joshua Rowland.
The Rangers gained the lead with another touchdown in the second quarter by Justin Crawford’s 50-yard run and another kick by Speights, putting Northwest at 14 points. Gulf Coast gained only three more points from Rowland making a 39-yard field goal, putting their score at 10 points with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter. Crawford’s run makes him the only player in school history to go over the 3,000-yard mark of his career.
The third quarter was full of surprises with two fumble recoveries by the Rangers with Corey Brown, 22 yards, and Tito Windham, five yards. After the first fumble recovery, Speights made a successful kick, but the kick was blocked after the second fumble recovery, setting Northwest’s score at 27 points. Within this quarter, MGCCC achieved a touchdown with Erdely completing a 62-yard pass to Johnathan Nance. Rowland made a successful kick giving the Bulldogs a score of 17.
To win the MACJC championship, Crawford made the final touchdown of the game with 11:30 to play during the fourth quarter from an 18-yard pass from Minshew. This helped the Rangers with their final score of 34. Gulf Coast also had luck during the fourth quarter with a touchdown by Nance with a 4-yard pass from Erdely. Although they did gain one final touchdown at the end, it was not enough and left their final score at 24.
With this long-awaited win, Northwest will now compete in the NJCAA National Championship, Mississippi Bowl VIII, on Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. in Biloxi against No. 2 Rochester (Minn.) (11-0).