Northeast prepares for clash with Northwest
Northeast will take its unbeaten record and national number 15 ranking into its annual match-up against Northwest on Thursday, September 29.
Northeast (4-0, 2-0 in North Division) is only one of two teams left undefeated in the Magnolia State with East Mississippi – next week’s Homecoming opponent – being the other school.
Northwest enters the game with 3-1 overall mark and a 1-1 record in the North Division after dropping 45-42 shootout to East Mississippi during the third week of the season.
Thursday’s meeting will mark the fifty-second time that Northeast and Northwest have squared off on the gridiron. Northwest shares the honors with Itawamba by being the only opponents that Northeast has played every year during its 52-year football history.
Northeast’s key to staying perfect on the year will be the play of the Tiger defense.
Since the 11:29 mark of the fourth quarter of the season opener against East Central,Northeast’s defense has not allowed a touchdown.
In the 191 minutes, 31 seconds, the Tiger defense has put the clamps on the oppositionholding Southwest, Mississippi Delta and Holmes to just 12 points with six of that dozen coming via a 101-yard interception return by Southwest’s Brennan Dunklin with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
In its back-to-back North Division games against Mississippi Delta and Holmes, Northeast has held the opposition to just three points, 412 yards of total offense and came away with a pair of turnovers.
Northeast also has the top ranked defense in the state by almost 20 yards a game. TheTigers were ahead of Jones County and Mississippi Delta when the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC)/National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XXIII standings were released earlier this week.
Northeast is only allowing opponents 196 yards per game – and has only surrendered four touchdowns all season – all-coming in the season opener against East Central.
Northwest counters with the league’s third-best offense behind the pass-friendly offense of Pearl River and East Mississippi.
Northwest leads the state in touchdowns scored with 25 on the season – 15 coming via the Ranger air attack.
Quarterback Ryan Mossakowski, a transfer from the University of Kentucky, has led the way for the Ranger air attack. Mossakowski is 85-for-137 for 1,299 yards passing and 15 touchdowns through the Rangers first four games.
Mossakowski has also protected the ball. Mossakowski and Northeast quarterback Parks Frazier (Corinth) lead the league in fewest interceptions with three.
Mossakowski will have to contend with a swarming Tiger defense that has came away with seven interceptions and seven sacks on the season – three against the Bulldogs during week four.
Eli Canton (Hernando) and Devin Lindsey (Baldwyn) lead the way for the Tiger defense. Canton, a linebacker, has 20 stops on the season including 16 solo tackles where Lindsey, a defensive back has 17 tackles including 12 solos.
Frankie Lee (Charleston) and Lee champion the defense with two picks apiece. Both of Lindsey’s interceptions came against the Warriors in the season opener whereas Lee spread his out with a pick against East Central and an interception against Southwest.
While the Northwest offense and Northeast defense match wits, the reverse of the situation might be the key to victory for the Tigers.
Frazier has come on strong in the last three games and has the Northeast offense averaging 263.5 yards per game including an even 300 yards against Holmes in the Tigers 21-0 victory.
Northeast’s ground attack of Michael Poole (Ripley), Jamarcus Goodloe (Leighton, Ala.) and Garrett Smith (Starkville) has led the Tigers to 524 yards rushing on the year with Goodloe collecting two of the Tigers three rushing touchdowns.
Northwest enters the contest with the top-ranked rush defense in the state allowing just 81.5 yards per game.
Northeast will feature a multi-faceted attack against Northwest with the Tigers bringing three receivers into the game that have already broken the 100-yard plateau on the season.
Tres Houston (Atlanta) leads the Tiger receivers with 14 catches for 141 yards and is also Northeast leading scorer with 24 points while Markie Dukes (Oxford) and Donte’ Barksdale (Southaven) both have over 100 yards receiving on the year.
Dukes has come on strong with 10 catches and 130 yards with a pair of touchdown haulswhile Barksdale has nine catches for 126.
Northeast place kicker Taylor Earhart (Olive Branch) is currently second on the team in scoring with 23 points connecting on 11-of-13 extra point attempts and 4-of-7 field goals during the first four games.
About Chris Elkins
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