northwest to host east central in macjc football state semifinals

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Northwest To Host East Central In MACJC Football State Semifinals


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SENATOBIA – For the first time since 2010, Northwest will host a football playoff game at Bobby Franklin Field.

Northwest (8-1, 5-1 north) will entertain East Central (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. Both teams are ranked nationally in the NJCAA polls. The Rangers are making their 26th trip to the playoffs in the last 34 years while the Warriors are postseason bound for the first time since 2001.

Both teams will play at different venues after a surprising ruling by the MACJC last Friday. Due to the disqualification of East Mississippi from the playoffs for a bench-clearing brawl that occurred during the Lions’ game Oct. 22 at Mississippi Delta, ECCC will travel to Senatobia instead of Scooba and Northwest is now the No. 1 seed from the MACJC’s North Division.

Northwest and East Central last met in the postseason back in 1999, the same year of the Rangers’ last football state championship. Northwest won that game 40-12, and a week later, defeated Hinds 33-21 to claim its eighth state title. The two teams have played a total of 46 times dating back to 1947 with Northwest leading the all-time series 27-18 with eight consecutive wins over the Warriors.

Northwest boasts the MACJC’s second-best and nation’s ninth-ranked offense at 488.2 yards-per-game, a nice balance of 292.3 passing and 181.7 rushing. East Central is seventh in the league and 33rd nationally at 376.4 yards/game.

All-American running back Justin Crawford is second in the nation in rushing (1,285 yards) and first in all-purpose yards (1,623) while freshman quarterback Gardner Minshew has thrown for a state-best 2,496 yards and 18 touchdowns against three interceptions. Minshew needs just four yards to become just the seventh Ranger quarterback to throw for 2,500 yards in a single-season.

Jacob McCrary (33 catches, 564 yards, TD) and Marquisian Chapman (34 catches, 543 yards, 5 TD) rank third and eighth in the MACJC in receiving yards and are two of Minshew’s favorite targets.

ECCC is led by freshman wide receiver turned running back Tredarian Gamble who has rushed for 854 yards and nine touchdowns, good enough for second in the state behind Crawford. He’s averaging 6.0 yards/carry and just under 100 yards/game.

Sophomore signal caller Jesse Hosket, ranked fifth in the MACJC in passing, has thrown for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns against one interception and is completing 61 percent of his passes. Kabion Ento is his favorite target, hauling in 32 passes for 552 yards and team-high seven touchdowns. ECCC will also line up in a two tight end set, something Northwest has not seen all year.

Defensively, ECCC is allowing just 14.8 points/game against 23.1/game for Northwest.

Sophomore linebacker Eric McPherson leads the team with 81 tackles while Jadarius Ceasar has a team-high nine of the Warriors’ 25 sacks. The team has picked off 10 passes, adding 21 breakups and 43 tackles-for-loss.

Sophomores Malik Hawkins (67 tackles) and Devante Davis (64) lead the Rangers in tackles. Freshman defensive end Quondarius Qualls has a team-high six sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. The defensive unit as a whole has racked up 71 tackles-for-loss and 27 sacks in addition to 11 interceptions and 27 breakups.

The winner of Saturday’s game will play the winner of Itawamba/Gulf Coast on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Northwest Mississippi CC

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