NW Miss Bows to Pearl River

Something happened Sept. 12 that hasn't occurred in 21 years—the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers fell to 0-2 after dropping a 20-18 decision to the Pearl River Wildcats in Senatobia. It marked the first time since the 1981 season, which was Northwest's Bobby Franklin's first year as head coach, that the Rangers have opened a season with two consecutive losses.

Northwest had a chance to tie the contest after scoring a touchdown with 2:37 left in the game when backup quarterback Frank Pace of Hernando hit receiver Derrick Woods with a 23-yard pass. The Rangers' rushing attempt for the two-point conversion was stuffed by the Pearl River defense.

"We just aren't doing the right things at the right times on both sides of the football," said Franklin. "We are a very young team, but we have to stop using that as an excuse at some point during the season and start playing good football."

Northwest pre-season All-American quarterback Bobby Robison of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., missed the contest because of a separated shoulder he suffered in the season-opener the week before against Hinds. Freshman Dallas Mooneyham of Oxford drew the starting nod against Pearl River and threw four interceptions before being replaced by sophomore Pace midway through the third quarter.

With the Rangers trailing 13-6, Pace rallied the troops by leading Northwest down the field and tossing a 21-yard touchdown pass to receiver John Harris of Americus, Ga. Northwest freshman Shawn Dascalu of Walls missed the extra point which put the score at 13-12. Pearl River responded on its next possession with a 34-yard scoring strike from Daniel Forrest to Donovan Morgan to pad the Wildcat lead at 20-12.

Pace is listed as a receiver on the Ranger roster, but has had some collegiate experience at quarterback. He backed up Northwest star quarterback Will Hall during the 2000 campaign and sat out last season. Pace finished the evening with 61 yards rushing and 108 yards passing.

The two teams battled to a 6-6 halftime tie. Northwest scored the first points of the night with 40 seconds left in the first period when Mooneyham hit Harris with a 24-yard touchdown pass, but the extra point attempt failed after a fumbled snap. Pearl scored with 2:18 remaining before halftime on a 67-yard scoring toss from Forrest to Morgan.


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