NWCC Rangers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rangers squeak by Trojans by one point

By Brett Brown
NWCC Sports Information

Freshman Denny Hansen is listed as a third-string linebacker on the Northwest Mississippi Community College football depth chart.

In fact, Hansen had only four tackles through the Rangers’ first five games.

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Hansen came through with perhaps the two biggest plays of the evening by sacking the Mississippi Delta quarterback twice on the final possession of the contest to preserve Northwest’s 14-13 victory Oct. 2 at Bobby Franklin Field in Senatobia.

The Rangers evened their overall record at 3-3, but more importantly kept their playoff hopes alive by improving to 2-1 in the MACJC north division. Mississippi Delta, which was ranked No. 19 in this week’s NJCAA poll, dropped to 4-2 and 2-2.

“We played well defensively all night and a couple of young guys stepped up and helped us out,” said Northwest head coach Ricky Woods. “The most important thing is that we started 10 freshmen on offense tonight, and they came from behind and won the game.”

One of those young guys was Hansen.

Forced into action because of numerous injuries in the Rangers’ corps of linebackers, Hansen, of Olive Branch, knifed through the Mississippi Delta defense and caused all sorts of problems in the Trojan backfield. Hansen sacked Mississippi Delta quarterback Johnathan Taylor on second down for a loss of six yards, then sealed the win with another sack on fourth down.

The Trojans claimed a 6-0 lead at halftime thanks to field goals of 44 and 35 yards by place kicker Chris Reifers.

Mississippi Delta stretched its advantage to 13-0 midway through the third quarter on a two-yard run by tailback Charles Ambrose.

That’s when the Northwest offense went to work.

The Rangers got on the board with 1:07 left in the third quarter on a four-yard touchdown run by freshman tailback Germichael Sanford of Batesville.

Northwest scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on its ensuing possession when freshman quarterback Casey Weston of Prattville, Ala., tossed a 45-yard scoring strike to freshman receiver Colton Barnett of Horn Lake.

“The free safety kept creeping closer, and we thought we could hit a long pass play on them,” said Woods. “The line blocked a lot better in the second half and gave us time.”

The Rangers won the game despite totaling just 94 yards with five first downs in the opening half.

Northwest’s defense also rose to the occasion by limiting Mississippi Delta to only 235 total yards, including 96 in the second half. The Rangers registered five quarterback sacks.

“You have to take your hat off to this team because they won’t quit,” added Woods. “They are finding ways to overcome adversity, and I believe this game was a confidence-builder for us.”

Northwest travels to Clarksdale Thursday, Oct. 9 to MACJC north division foe Coahoma. The contest starts at 7 p.m.