The Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers rallied behind a suffocating defensive effort to blank the Hinds Eagles 23-0 in their home opener Sept. 3 at Bobby Franklin Field in Senatobia.
Northwest limited Hinds to a measly 120 total yards, including just three passing yards, to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2004.
Hinds, which dropped to 1-1, could never sustain any offensive consistency against a tough Ranger defense that forced five turnovers and allowed the Eagles to complete only one of nine pass attempts. It marked the first time Northwest has shut out an opponent since the 2007 campaign when they blanked East Mississippi 14-0 in Senatobia.
Ranger sophomore quarterback Casey Weston of Prattville, Ala., added to his NJCAA-leading passing totals by completing 30 of 42 attempts for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Weston started the game with a hot hand with 11 consecutive completions. Ten different Northwest receivers caught at least one pass led by sophomore Michael Lindsey of St. Petersburg, Fla., who had five catches for 72 yards, including a beautiful one-handed 32-yard grab on a third down play.
The Ranger victory was marred by 14 penalties for 125 yards. Some of those penalties proved to be costly to Northwest on the scoreboard.
Northwest had the ball inside the Hinds 15-yard line on four occasions, but came away with just six points in the first half due to penalties that moved the Rangers away from the end zone. Northwest also missed a 26-yard field goal in the first half.
"We were really sloppy in the first and second quarters," said Ranger Head Coach Ricky Woods. "Our minds weren't where they were supposed to be. The team that we need the rest of the season showed up in the third and fourth quarters."
Northwest's defense wreaked havoc all night long by intercepting three passes. Linebacker Timothy Kirk of Charleston, and cornerbacks Aubrey Shelton of Grenada and Keshun Cowan of Olive Branch all had one pick each. Defensive tackles Chris Little of Macon, Ga., and Renaldo Buck of Sarah both recovered fumbles to stop Eagle possessions.
The Rangers led 6-0 at halftime after Weston hooked up with receiver Xavier Lee of Pope on a seven-yard touchdown.
Weston tossed a couple more touchdown passes in the third period by hooking up with receiver Otis Mays of Independence on an eight-yard pass, then connecting with receiver Marquise Green of Byhalia on a four-yard score. Mays also caught a pass from Weston for a two-point conversion.
Northwest added a 37-yard field goal by kicker Kevin Buford of Greenville in the fourth quarter.
"We had some people play well for us tonight," added Woods. "Despite the mistakes, I thought we played hard, but the most important thing is that we won."
The Rangers will host Pearl River Thursday, Sept. 10 in Senatobia. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.