Northeast defense looks to stifle high-powered Northwest offense
Northeast Mississippi Community College’s football team just picked up some extra motivation for Thursday’s game against Northwest.
Northeast (3-1, 2-0 in North Division) dropped to second in the overall defensive standings when the statistics for the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC)/Region XXIII were released Tuesday.
Copiah-Lincoln jumped the Tigers in the standing by holding Jones County to under 280 yards in the Wolves 20-14 win over the Bobcats.
Northeast now trails Copiah-Lincoln by a mere nine yards in the overall defense standings and is almost 100 yards better than third-place Mississippi Gulf Coast, who currently sits atop the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) poll.
Northeast made strides in its defensive effort when the Tigers improved their standing in the rushing defense category. The Tigers moved up to third in the league after stifling Holmes’ rushing offense and is currently holding opponents to just 89.8 yards a game on the ground.
Northwest counters the Northeast defense with the second-best rushing offense in the league. The Rangers have scored 10 of their 17 offensive scores via the rush and over nearly 220 yards a game on the ground.
Thursday’s matchup will see a battle of wills as Northeast takes its second-ranked defense up against Northwest’s fourth-ranked offense.
Northeast holds opponents to just 233.5 yards per game while Northwest averages 423 yards per game and has tallied almost 1,700 yards in just four games.
Both squads enter the game in the top three in turnover margin. Northeast is tied with Pearl River for the top spot in the category with the Tigers and Wildcats both with a plus-nine in the category while Northwest is nipping on the duo’s heels with a plus-six in the category.
The Rangers have evenly spread out their gains with Northwest coming away with seven fumbles and seven interceptions against the opposition while only turning the ball over eight times – including five interceptions.
Northeast has limited its turnovers on the year – just two – while coming away with 11 turnovers from the opposition. The Tigers have recovered six fumbles and came away with five interceptions – four by Jeremy Spikner (Olive Branch).
Spikner, whose four interceptions have come in the last two games, is tied for the league lead in interceptions with a Northwest counterpart – Brandon Lawrence – who also has four interceptions on the season.
Northeast will look to capitalize on its passing game advantage as Clint Wilson (Olive Branch) faces off against the league’s worst passing defense.
Northwest has allowed 1,017 yards through the air this year and sees opponents complete 53.8-percent (84-of-156) of its passes while Wilson is fourth in the league in yards per game with 210.5 while hooking up on 65-of-122 of his passes for five scores and 842 yards.
Wilson’s favorite receiver Josh Jarboe (Atlanta, Ga.) is second in the league in receptions per game behind Steve McNair, Jr. of Pearl River.
Jarboe averages 5.8 catches a game and has hauled in 23 balls for 308 yards and a 13.4 yards per catch clip while McNair, Jr. has 27 catches for 281 yards and a 10.4 yards per catch average.
About Chris Elkins
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