Rangers Fall at Holmes on Last-Minute FG
October 13, 2013By Kevin Maloney of NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY COLLEGE
GOODMAN – Cole Ballard connected on a 29-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining and Holmes snuck past Northwest 17-14 on Saturday night at Ras M. Branch Stadium in the Bulldogs' Homecoming game.
Holmes snapped a 10-game losing streak to Northwest in improving to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the north division, while the Rangers fell to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in the north.
The game was an offensive struggle all night, with the teams combining for just 584 yards of total offense and going a combined 13-of-36 on third down and 1-of-6 on fourth down. There were also 13 punts in the game.
Former Ranger running back Percy O'Bannon scored the first touchdown of the game for Holmes at the 4:14-mark of the first quarter, rushing in from 5 yards out.
Northwest would tie the game at 7-7 with 4:41 left in the second quarter when Damian Baker caught a 6-yard pass from Karsten Miller to cap an 11-play, 81-yard drive.
With the score still tied midway through the third quarter, Miller put Northwest on top for the first time at 14-7 when he scrambled 11 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Northwest drove deep into Holmes territory on its ensuing two possessions looking to extend the lead to a pair of scores, but came away with no points. A 1st-and-10 at the Holmes 27 ended on a dropped pass at the 26 and the Bulldogs proceeded to drive 74 yards for the tying score.
Quarterback James Ayers did all the work for Holmes in finding the tying scoring drive with 5:12 left in regulation, completing passes of 15 and 21 yards and rushing for 33 yards on the drive. Ayers then hit Michael Brown from 21 yards out to make it 14-14.
A quick three-and-out for the Rangers again gave the home team all the momentum. Miller was sacked on third down by Eric Hilton (3.5 sacks on the night) that allowed Holmes to have good field position after Matt Bratton's 31-yard punt to the Northwest 42-yard line.
Holmes drove it down to the Rangers' 11-yard line with 1:41 remaining, but back-to-back incomplete passes forced the Bulldogs to attempt a 29-yard field goal for the go-ahead score. Ballard was true with 1:24 left and Holmes led 17-14.
Northwest's last chance started from its own 19-yard line with no timeouts and Miller hit D'Montrise Swinney twice for 16 yards before the Rangers' drive stalled at their own 42-yard line as time expired.
Miller finished 21-of-40 for 187 yards with a touchdown and interception and was sacked four times. He hit seven different receivers, including Swinney eight times for 91 yards. Holmes' quarterbacks went a combined 14-of-33 for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Damian Baker, still chasing a Northwest milestone, had 18 carries for 85 yards and four catches for 18 yards and a score. He's now just 132 yards shy of becoming just the fifth Ranger in school history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a career.
Defensively, Terrell White had a team-high 11 tackles, followed by Demetrius Farmer with nine and Alec Michaelwith eight. Tarow Barney had four tackles, a forced fumble and a pair of sacks.
Northwest will welcome 3rd-ranked East Mississippi (7-0, 4-0 north) to Bobby Franklin Field on Thursday, Oct. 17 for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff in the Rangers' final home game of the year.
Watch live at www.njcaatv.com/nwccrangers or follow live stats at sidearmstats.com/northwestms/football.