Coahoma Topples Struggling NW Mississippi

PHOTO: Northwest Mississippi Community College tailback Bryan Fitzgerald of Southaven fights for yardage in the Rangers' 12-7 loss to Coahoma Oct. 13 in Senatobia. A year ago, it was the Boston Red Sox who lifted their so-called "curse" by winning the World Series. This season, on a much smaller scale, it was the Coahoma Tigers' turn.

Coahoma captialized on some mistakes to upset the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers 12-7 Oct. 13 at Ranger Stadium/ Bobby Franklin Field in Senatobia.

It marked the first time in 30 tries that the Tigers have beaten the Rangers. Northwest had won all 29 meetings against Coahoma since the series began in 1975.

The loss moved both teams to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the MACJC north division. It's the worst start by a Northwest team since the 2002 season when the Rangers opened with a record of 1-4. That year, the Rangers rallied to win their last four contests to finish 5-4 overall.

Northwest Head Coach Randy Pippin still holds hope for that kind of finish for this year's squad.

"I still believe there are great things in store for this team," said Pippin. "We are demonstrating a lot of character, but are unable to overcome the youth and inexperience that we possess. We are making freshman-type mistakes that are hurting us at crucial times."

One of those mistakes turned into a 6-0 halftime lead for Coahoma.

The Tigers recovered a fumble on the Rangers' opening possession of the contest at the Northwest 43-yard line. Seven plays later, quarterback Omair Avant tossed a three-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kebian Gilmore.

Coahoma stretched its lead to 12-0 in the fourth period thanks to another Ranger miscue. This time, the Tigers took advantage of a Northwest fumble at the Ranger 34-yard line.

Avant hooked up with receiver Lenell King on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 8:05 remaining in the game.

Northwest mounted a rally behind freshman quarterback Larry Henderson of Hernando who didn't start the contest because of bruised ribs he suffered last week against East Mississippi.

Henderson drove the Rangers down the field with a couple of short passes, but the biggest play came when Henderson converted a fourth down at the Northwest 44 by scrambling for 14 yards to keep the posession alive.

The Rangers cut their deficit to 12-7 with 4:12 left when tailback Terrance Jackson of Senatobia scored on a five-yard run.

Northwest got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining, and moved the ball to the Coahoma 16-yard line thanks to a dazzling run by Jackson. Jackson caught a short pass from Henderson and ran from one side of the field to the other to gain 34 yards and give the Rangers a chance to win the contest with 33 seconds left.

With no timeouts left, Northwest chose to throw a fade pattern to receiver Robert Moore of Charleston, but Coahoma defensive back Travis Grandberry intercepted the pass in the end zone to kill the Ranger threat.

Northwest totalled 277 yards of offense compared to the Tigers' 156, but turnovers were what stood out the most. The Rangers had three, including two in their own territory, while Coahoma did not turn the ball over once.

"Our defense is playing well enough for us to win games, but we have to put it all together," added Pippin. "We started nine freshmen on offense tonight and they need some time to mature. It's always darkest before the dawn, but fortunately we still have some time to turn this thing around."

Northwest will travel to Booneville Thursday, Oct. 20 to face Northeast. The MACJC north division contest kicks off at 7 p.m.


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