Trailing 34-7 at the half and all but down and out, homestanding Northwest rallied for 21 unanswered points in the second half and held Northeast to just 60 total yards and three first downs but it was too little, too late as the Tigers escaped Senatobia with a 34-28 win to snap a five-game losing streak to the Rangers. | Box Score | Watch Replay
Ranked No. 15 in the latest NJCAA poll, Northeast improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the north, while 10th-ranked Northwest fell to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in league action.
Despite seven total turnovers, Northwest still had its chance to win the game on their final drive.
Beginning at their own 18-yard line with 2:42 remaining, the Rangers drove it all the way down to the Northeast 11 yard-line and had it 1st-and-10 with 47 seconds left but two dropped passes in the end zone and a desperation attempt on 4th-and-10 was unsuccessful and the valiant comeback fell just short.
After taking its opening drive of the game 71 yards over just five plays for an early 7-0 lead, Northwest could never get back in a groove the final 28 minutes of the first half. Northeast picked off five Ryan Mossakowski passes and forced a fumble deep in Ranger territory that led to 27 unanswered points and all the momentum into the half.
But the second half was a completely different story, with the Ranger defense turning it up a notch.
David Conner's interception return down to the Northeast 4-yard line setup an Adrian Golden 2-yard touchdown run, followed by a 23-yard touchdown pass from Mossakowski to Lance Ray two drives later to cut the lead down to 34-21 after three quarters.
The Ranger defense again came up with a stop to start the fourth quarter, forcing a Northeast punt that was downed at the Northwest 2-yard line.
Northwest proceeded to put together its best drive of the night, driving 98 yards over 15 plays in just 4:03. Mossakowski completed 8-of-14 passes on the drive, capped off by a 6-yard touchdown strike to Darryl Kinkle, to pull the Rangers within 34-28 with 7:48 left in regulation.
Frankie Lee picked off his third pass of the night on the Rangers' ensuing drive after a Northeast three-and-out, giving the Tigers the ball on their own 48-yard line with 4:33 left. Northeast couldn't run out the clock, however, going three-and-out and punting the ball down to the Rangers' 18-yard line.
The final drive had all the drama you could ask for, with both sides desperate to make a stand.
Ray caught three-straight balls from Mossakowski for gains of 11, 2 and 26 yards, taking Northwest down to the 11-yard line with one timeout remaining. But dropped passes by Kinkle and Henry wiped off what would have tied the game at 34-all, and one last gasp to the end zone on 4th-and-10 was ruled incomplete. Henry appeared to pull down Mossakowski's pass in a crowd of defenders and had control when he hit the ground, but the line judge ruled the pass incomplete after a tussle with a Tiger defender.
Northwest outgained Northeast 300-60 in the second half, but was haunted by an unorthodox seven turnovers on the evening that proved to be the difference.
Mossakowksi finished the night 29-of-57 for 360 yards, tossing three touchdowns against six interceptions. His 57 attempts broke Bobby Robison's 10-year-old single-game record of 55 set in 2001 against Jones County. Ray was his primary target, catching nine passes for 139 yards and two scores in addition to Henry hauling in eight for 78 yards.
Northeast's Parks Frazier was 12-of-28 for 144 yards and three touchdowns – all in the first half – while Michael Poole rushed 18 times for a game-high 111 yards.