It’s very uncommon for a team to score 42 points, rack up 450 yards of total offense, force three turnovers and still lose.
That’s exactly what happened to the No. 18 Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers in their 49-42 loss to the No. 13 East Mississippi Lions Sept. 24 at Bobby Franklin Field in Senatobia. Northwest dropped to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the MACJC north division, while East Mississippi improved to 4-1 and 2-0.
There were several oddities and weird happenings in the wild shootout that wasn’t settled until the Lions held the Rangers on a fourth down play at the East Mississippi 27-yard line with less than 10 seconds left.
Both teams combined for 61 first downs, 1,099 yards of total offense, and 163 offensive plays.
One of the weirdest happenings was an incomplete pass by Northwest that was changed to a fumble after a timeout in the second quarter. The Lions capitalized on that odd play to score a touchdown and claim a 29-13 lead.
“We battled all night, but just couldn’t stop them when we had to,” said Ranger Head Coach Ricky Woods. “When you score 42 points, you are supposed to win. Our goal now is to win out and get back to the playoffs.”
Northwest sophomore quarterback Casey Weston of Prattville, Ala., continued his assault on the school record books by completing 26 of 52 passes for 353 yards and career-high five touchdowns. Through the Rangers’ five contests, Weston leads the nation with 1,738 passing yards and 17 touchdowns.
Faced with the daunting task of stopping the nation’s leading offense which averages 517 yards per game, Northwest added to their state-leading takeaway total by picking off Lion All-American quarterback Randall Mackey three times. V.J. Street of Senatobia, Stacey Lake and Timothy Kirk, both of Charleston, intercepted passes for the Rangers.
Northwest trailed 29-13 in the second period, but Weston tossed his third touchdown pass of the night by hooking up with Otis Mays of Independence on a 28-yard scoring play. The Rangers added a two-point conversion to cut their deficit to 29-21 at halftime.
The two teams exchanged scores in the opening two periods. Weston got Northwest on the board by throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Michael Lindsey of St. Petersburg, Fla., in the first quarter. Weston followed that up with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Colton Barnett of Horn Lake less than two minutes later.
The Rangers tied the contest at 29-29 on their opening possession of the second half when Weston found Xavier Lee of Pope in the end zone on a six-yard pass.
Northwest added another score to claim a 35-29 advantage after Kirk returned his interception 46 yards to the Lion 27. Two plays later, Ranger tailback Calvin Malone of Southaven scored on a 23-yard run. Malone finished the night with 14 carries for a season-high 123 yards.
East Mississippi bounced back and reeled off the next 13 points to take a 42-35 lead, but Northwest answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Weston to Lindsey to tie the game at 42-42 with 8:45 remaining. Lindsey had seven receptions for 126 yards.
The Lions scored the game-winning touchdown with 2:23 left when tailback Pat Shed scored on a five-yard run.
Northwest got the ball back one last time and moved from their own 32-yard line to the East Mississippi 27, but the Lions stopped the Ranger drive on fourth down.
Northwest travels to Moorhead Thursday, Oct. 1 to face Mississippi Delta. The game starts at 6 p.m.