SENATOBIA – Turnovers can prove deadly, especially when committed against the nation’s No. 4-ranked team.
For Itawamba, Thursday night’s miscues in a 31-14 loss to Northwest ended the Indians’ quest for a fifth straight victory, an MACJC North Division championship and – more importantly – a trip to the state playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“Give Northwest a lot of credit,” said first-year ICC head coach Jon Williams, whose team started the season 1-3. “We came into this game not wanting to leave any cards on the table. We threw what we had.
“It wasn’t good enough.”
The homestanding Rangers ended their regular season unbeaten (9-0 overall, 6-0 division) with the win against the Indians (5-4, 4-2) at Bobby Franklin Field.
Northwest will host a first-round state playoff game next Saturday against the South’s No. 2 team.
Two of three first-half pass interceptions led to touchdowns for the Rangers.
Renaldo Buck intercepted a pass by ICC’s Andy Wilson to set up the Rangers at the Indians’ 7-yard line. Jay Jones scored the first of his two first-half touchdowns on a 2-yard run on a third-and-goal.
Jones’ score gave the Rangers a 10-0 lead with 14 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Northwest’s second pick was returned 93 yards to the end zone by Jeffrey Carlyle, who intercepted an errant throw by ICC receiver Justin Rogers. The Indians had lined up for a field-goal attempt on the play, but broke the formation and attempted the pass.
“They’re too good and we’re not good enough to give them the ball more times than they should have it,” ICC offensive coordinator Gabe Fertitta said.
Down 17-0, the Indians marched to the Northwest 3 only to lose the ball over on downs with 5:33 remaining in the half when a 4-and-2 fade pass from Wilson to D’Angelo Henry fell incomplete.
Northwest answered with a 12-play, 97-yard drive that ended with Jones scoring on a 1-yard run to give the Rangers a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Rangers took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 24-yard field goal by Kevin Buford.
Northwest jumped out 31-0 on its first series of the third quarter. The touchdown came on a 10-yard pass to Myles White from Brent Osborn, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 227 yards.
The Rangers finished with 404 yards total offense, which was close to their season average of 412 yards per game.
ICC answered with back-to-back touchdown runs of 2 and 12 yards by DeShawn McGaughy to cut the Rangers’ lead to 31-14 in the third quarter.
McGaughy’s 2-yard TD – behind the blocking of Tim McAdoo in a power set – came following a fumble recovery at the Northwest 36.
ICC, trailing 31-17, got a blocked punt by Xavian Evans which gave the Indians the ball at the Northwest 40 with 10:48 remaining.
However, the Indians were stopped on downs at the Northwest 6 with 7:26 showing.
ICC finished with 287 yards total offense. Wilson was 13 of 24 for 181 yards and two interceptions. McGaughy rushed for 52 yards on 15 carries.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal