NWCC vs Pearl River

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

NWCC wins in OT thriller

SENATOBIA – Talk about ushering in the 2011 MACJC football season in style.

In an offensive outburst that saw No. 9 Northwest and No. 8 Pearl River rack up a combined 1,139 yards and 111 points, it was the Rangers’ defensive stand on a two-point conversion in overtime that lifted the home team to a wild, 56-55 win in front of 2,000-plus Thursday night at Bobby Franklin Field.

It marked the second consecutive season Northwest opened with a win over the higher-ranked Wildcats, giving them back-to-back victories for the first time since the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Pearl River still leads the all-time series, 26-11.

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Sophomore transfers Ryan Mossakowski and Lance Ray shined in their Northwest debuts, with Mossakowski completing 20 of 37 passes for 443 yards and five touchdowns and also rushing for two more, and Ray catching four balls for 153 yards and three scores and returning a kick 84 yards for a score.

Northwest (1-0) took its opening drive of the season 67 yards on seven plays, lighting up the scoreboard just 2:18 into the first quarter of play when Mossakowski found Ray from 30-yards out. Chase Carpenter’s point after sailed wide, making it 6-0 Rangers.

Pearl River (0-1) would answer back two drives later, using a 32-yard run from Markeyus Johnson to cap a 7-play, 75-yard drive and give the Wildcats a 7-6 lead. Johnson would score again just minutes later on a 13-yard pass from All-American quarterback Melvin German, increasing the Pearl River lead to 14-6.

But the scoring was just getting started for both teams.

Ray’s 84-yard kick return 17 seconds after Johnson’s second score, followed by the two-point conversion from running back Adrian Golden, knotted it at 14-14 with 2:28 left in the first. It marked the first kick return for a touchdown since Bud Barksdale returned one 74 yards for a score against Coahoma back in 2008.

After pushing back in front 21-14, Pearl River had a chance to increase its lead to a pair of touchdowns late in the second quarter. The Wildcats had it 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but German was sacked by Jeffrey Carlyle on third down and a 32-yard field goal attempt from Caleb Kergosien was missed to keep the game a touchdown lead at half.

Northwest’s first drive of the third quarter stalled out at the Pearl River 49-yard line, forcing a Carpenter punt. But the Rangers caught a huge break when Leonard Johnson muffed the punt at the 3-yard line where Demarius Pegues was on spot to recover it for Northwest. Mossakowski would punch it in on a quarterback keeper to knot it at 21-21.

The teams would trade scores later in the quarter, and Northwest opened the fourth with another Mossakowski keeper to take its largest lead of the game, 41-28, with 12:51 left in regulation.

Pearl River would not go away, however, mustering consecutive scoring drives of 63 and 96 yards to retake the lead, 42-41, with 6:13 left to play. The go-ahead score came on 4th-and-1 from the Wildcats’ own 36-yard line, taking advantage of a Ranger blitz and finding a wide open Ketrick Wolfe down the middle of the field for a 64-yard touchdown strike.

Northwest responded with a huge scoring drive with 2:22 left, capping a 5-play, 80-yard drive. Back-to-back circus catches by Marcus Henry and Lance Ray of 24 and 43 yards produced the go-ahead score that made it 49-42.

Pearl River got the ensuing kickoff at the 35-yard line thanks to a nice return by Javonte’ Wilson, and marched 65 yards down the field for the tying score on a 30-yard double pass from German to Jonathan Duncan to Seth Roberts.

The Rangers had a chance to win it with 10 seconds left in regulation, but Carpenter’s 40-yard field goal attempt came up just short.

In the extra period, Northwest took first possession and made it count. After a pass interference play set the Rangers up at the 10-yard line, Mossakowski found Darryl Kinkle for his first touchdown reception of the season in the back corner of the end zone. The PAT attempt was good.

Pearl River wasted little time responding, scoring in four plays on its first possession. But the gusty call of the game came seconds later when head coach Tim Hatten decided to go for two and the win. German attempted to rush around the right side for the win, but Terrance Evans and the Ranger defense came up with the biggest play of the night and stopped him just shy of the goal line.

German had an unbelievable night in his season debut, completing 40 of 62 passes for 473 yards and five touchdowns and also rushing for 40 yards and a score. His favorite target of the night was Snoop Rollins who caught a game-high 13 passes for 126 yards and a score.

Pearl River outgained Northwest 629-510 on the night and racked up 34 first downs.

Defensively, Quan Fletcher had a team-high seven tackles for the Wildcats, while Jeff Carlyle (13), David Conner (12) and Dex Herrington (11) led the way for the Rangers. Bakari Trotter and Randolph Williams each picked off passes.

Northwest will return to action next Thursday, traveling to East Central (0-1) for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff in Decatur. Listen live on WQLJ 93.7 FM in Oxford.