By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
SENATOBIA – For such an emotional postgame situation as Northeast coach Ricky Smither had around him, he still was in a focused game mode.
But that was OK, his Tigers were doing enough celebrating for him.
Northeast had reason to be celebrating Thursday, having just survived a comeback attempt by the Northwest Rangers to claim a 34-28 victory in a key MACJC North Division game.
“Anytime you beat Northwest it’s big,” said a very reserved Smither.
“We’re going to enjoy the bus ride home, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
The work ahead for No. 14 Northeast (5-0, 3-0) is a matchup next Saturday against No. 4 East Mississippi in Booneville. It will be a battle for first place in the North.
Northeast survived a 21-point second half by Northwest (3-2, 1-2) and a goal line stand by the Tigers’ defense in the final seconds.
Northeast led 34-7 at halftime.
However, as time trickled down in the fourth quarter, Northwest had the ball at the Northeast 11-yard line with 31 seconds left.
Northwest QB Ryan Mossakowski fired four passes into the end zone, two of those attempts going through the finger tips of his receivers.
After the final pass, Northeast was able to exhale and claim the victory.
“I feel like we’re a championship caliber team,” Smither said. “But we’re not going to win playing like this in the second half next week.”
At the start of the contest, Northwest broke on top first with a 29-yard TD pass to Lance Ray. Northeast fired back with a 31-yard scoring pass from Parks Frazier (Corinth) to Tres Houston.
That was just the start of a terrific half for the Tigers.
Frazier (145 yards), later connected on TDs of 6 and 15 yards to Donte Barksdale. Taylor Earhart added field goals of 39 and 34 yards before halftime.
The Tigers’ defense had six interceptions, including a 54-yard touchdown return by Dion Belue.
Mossakowski threw touchdowns to by Ray (22 yards) and Darryl Kinkle (6) in the second-half comeback.