The Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers didn’t just set the tone early in their division opener– they turned the volume up full blast.
Northwest scored on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back en route to shutting out the Itawamba Indians 35-0 Sept. 17 in Fulton.
The Rangers, ranked No. 19 by the NJCAA, improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the MACJC north division, while Itawamba dropped to 1-3 and 0-2. Northwest has won 17 of of its last 19 division contests over the last four seasons.
Ranger quarterback Casey Weston of Prattville, Ala., wasted little time getting Northwest on the scoreboard by hooking up with receiver Michael Lindsey of St. Petersburg, Fla. Lindsey caught a short pass and raced through the Indian defense for a 55-yard touchdown just 22 seconds into the game.
“I thought this was our best game so far this year as far as playing together,” said Ranger Head Coach Ricky Woods. “We had some breakdowns here and there, but it’s always good to open the division with a victory.”
Weston, the nation’s leading passer averaging 378.7 yards per game, finished the night by completing 14 of 23 attempts for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Through Northwest’s first four games, Weston has thrown for 1,385 yards and 12 scores.
“Casey’s a great player,” added Woods. “He really took command and helped us stretch the lead in the second half.”
The Weston to Lindsey combination worked again in the second quarter to give the Rangers a 14-0 lead at halftime. Lindsey, who caught three passes for 107 yards, also snagged a 14-yard touchdown reception.
Itawamba used ball control in the first half to keep Northwest’s offense off the field. The Rangers ran just 18 offensive plays in the opening two quarters and tallied just 114 yards.
The second half was a different story. Northwest was able to settle in and put together some sustained drives behind the passing of Weston and the running of freshman tailback Calvin Malone of Southaven. who racked up a season-high 71 yards on 12 carries.
The Rangers put the game away by scoring 21 points in the third quarter.
Weston threw two touchdown passes to receiver Colton Barnett of Horn Lake covering 33 and four yards. Malone scored his first touchdown of the season with a five-yard run.
Northwest’s defense was solid all night. The Rangers stopped the Indians twice with goal line stands on fourth down plays inside the Northwest five-yard line.
The Rangers, who lead the state in takeaways with 18, forced six Itawamba turnovers. Northwest registered four interceptions and limited the Indians to 177 total yards. Itawamba managed just 32 yards and two first downs in the second half.
The Rangers host East Mississippi Thursday, Sept. 24 at Bobby Franklin Field in Senatobia. The north division battle starts at 6:30 p.m.