By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – If the Itawamba Indians zigged, the Northwest Rangers zagged.
It was just that kind of night for the Indians as the Rangers made all the right calls.
The Rangers played patient and smart, and played their way to a convincing 45-7 victory Thursday over the Indians.
“I’m certainly not pleased with the way we finished the season,” Itawamba head coach Jon Williams said. “It looks like Northwest got back to playing like it was a few weeks ago.
“They did everything right tonight.”
With an opportunity to be the No. 2 team from the North Division in the playoffs, the loss knocks Itawamba (4-5, 4-2) out of that spot and ends the Indians season.
Coupled with a Northeast’s 21-12 loss to Copiah-Lincoln Thursday, Northwest (6-3, 4-2) slides into that No. 2 slot, and the playoff berth.
The Rangers established their methodical pace on their first possession of the contest, a 14-play drive.
Al Hentz from South Panola ran off tackle the final 2 yards of the 80-yard drive for a lead Northwest would never relinquish.
Northwest added two more touchdowns in the first half, beginning with a 15-play drive capped by an 8-yard reception by South Panola’s Marcus Henry. Quarterback Ryan Mossakowski added a 1-yard sneak, and the Rangers held a 24-0 lead at the intermission.
The Rangers maintained their rhythm in the second half, beginning with a Hentz 14-yard scoring run. Later in the third period, a 12-play drive was capped by a 25-yard catch by Henry.
Northwest tacked on one more score on a fourth quarter 3-yard run by quarterback Domonique Harris from Southaven. Itawamba got on the scoreboard later in the period on a 14-play drive, finished by a 6-yard pass from Pontotoc’s Caden Dallas to Aberdeen’s Erik Buchanan.
“The big thing was they outplayed us, just playing faster than we were,” Williams said. “We just didn’t tackle tonight.
“We accomplished a lot of our goals this season. Of course making the playoffs was a goal, and I’m disappointed, but I’m proud of the way the guys persevered this season.”
Teshadi Talton led the Northwest ground attack with 165 yards, while Hentz added 105 yards. Mossakowski passed for 261 yards.