Northeast defense seals win against Northwest
Northeast sophomore Frankie Lee made sure that the Tigers undefeated streak stayed intact against the Northwest Ranger on Thursday, September 29.
Lee, a 5-9, 175-pound defensive back from Charleston, came away with three interceptions, three pass breakups, a fumble recovery and 12 total tackles as Northeast stayed perfect on the year with a 34-28 win over Northwest in Senatobia.
Northeast’s defense, which came into the game as the top-ranked defense in the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC), proved that it belonged among the nation’s elite by picking off Northwest quarterback Ryan Mossakowski six times and causing seven turnovers from a Ranger offense that had only turned the ball over seven times in its previous four games.
Northwest (3-2, 1-2 in North Division) ended the Tiger defense’s touchdown streak early in the first quarter when Mossakowski found Lance Ray on a 30-yard strike with 13:05 left in the first quarter.
Ray’s reception was the first touchdown that the Northeast defense had given up in over 193 minutes of play dating back to the season opener against East Central.
After allowing Ray’s touchdown, the Northeast defense closed ranks on the Northwest offense and forced the Rangers into five interceptions, two punts and a fumble on their next eight possessions.
However, after allowing Ray’s score, Northeast clamped down on defense and gave the Tiger offense good field position for the rest of the first half as Parks Frazier (Corinth) led the team to 34 straight points.
Northeast (5-0, 3-0) tied the game three minutes after Ray’s touchdown catch when Frazier found Tres Houston (Atlanta) on a 31-yard strike with 10:02 left in the opening frame.
Taylor Earhart (Olive Branch) gave the Tigers the lead going into the second quarter when the Northeast sophomore knocked through the first of two field goals on the night – a 39-yarder with 3:37 remaining in the quarter.
Earhart was also perfect on the night booting all four point after tries for the Tigers.
Frazier continued the offensive onslaught when the Northeast freshman hit Donte’ Barksdale on a 5-yard laser with 11:03 left in the second quarter and a 34-yard Earhart field goal with 2:53 left in the first half lifted the Tigers to a 17-7 advantage.
Lee’s second interception of the night set up Earhart’s 34-yard boot after Lee ended a Northwest scoring drive at the Tiger 6.
While Lee came away with three of the six interceptions against Mossakowski, Deion Belue and Jeremy Spikner also got their hands on Mossakowski’s passes.
Spikner’s first interception set up the Tigers with great field position after the Northeast sophomore returned his pick 60 yards deep into Northwest territory leading to Frazier finding Barksdale on his 5-yard touchdown reception.
However the Northeast defense did not rest on its laurels and kept the pressure on the Rangers throughout the first half.
Belue gave the Tigers a 27-7 advantage with 1:37 left in the second quarter when the Tuscumbia, Ala.-native found paydirt on a 59-yard interception return and Spikner hauled in his second interception of the first half – Northwest’s fifth interception – with 1:03 to go in the half, returning the pigskin deep in Northwest territory.
Barksdale got his second score of the night when Frazier found the Northeast sophomore on a 15-yard strike with 12 seconds left in the half.
In the second half, Mossakowski found his rhythm and almost brought the Rangers back from the brink.
Following a David Conner interception with 8:36 left in the third quarter, the Northwest offense only need one play to find the end zone as Adrian Golden punched infrom two yards out.
Mossakowski then proceeded to collect on a pair of long drives. The University of Kentucky transfer pulled the host to within 34-21 with 14 seconds left in the third quarter when Ray hauled in his second score of the night – a 23-yard touchdown – capping a 71-yard drive but Northwest had an even longer drive in the fourth.
After a Jonathan Harrison (Belmont) punt pinned the Northwest offense at the Ranger 2, Mossakowski used a 15 passing attempt effort along with a 2-yard run to cap the 98-yard drive and brought the Rangers to within 34-28 with eight minutes left in the game.
Lee thwarted the Rangers next attempt with his third interception of the night and a goal line stand that almost sealed the deal for the Tigers.
However, after a 26-yard completion to Ray, Northwest looked to score again with 1-and-10 from the Tiger 11 but Northeast batted away three Mossakowski shots at the end zone as the Tigers put pressure on the Ranger quarterback.
With 17 seconds left, Nick Thomason wrestled the ball away from the Rangers for an incomplete pass on 4-and-10 and finally sealed the win for the Tigers.
Number fifteen Northeast will now take its undefeated record against the state’s only other remaining undefeated team – East Mississippi – as the two teams battle for North Division supremacy on Saturday, October 8 in Booneville. Fourth ranked East Mississippi makes the trip to Booneville after beating Coahoma 56-6 on Thursday and will the Homecoming 2011 opponent for the Tigers. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
About Chris Elkins
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