NW drops hammer on Hinds, 42-10

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 6, 2000

Thomas McKnight, who starred at Vicksburg High, struggles to keep his balance as he runs past Northwest’s Jay Harris on the opening kickoff of the second half. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

SENATOBIA One thing is for sure now in Mississippi junior college football Northwest is the dominant team.

Even so, the Hinds Eagles (5-1, 2-0 South Division) could still have the last laugh.

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The Rangers (6-0, 2-0 North), who came into the season ranked No. 1 nationally, scored five unanswered touchdowns en route to a 42-10 throttling of Hinds in front of an estimated 4,500 at Ranger Stadium.

“There’s no question, no question, who the best team in this state is, or for that matter the country, and it’s the Rangers,” said Northwest quarterback Will Hall, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound sophomore who decimated a stout Hinds defense for 270 yards passing on 25 completions.

“We had a lot of adversity hit us before the season and we are really close and nothing can pull us apart.”

The Rangers, who have rolled through the first half of the season averaging more than 50 points per game, are ineligible to play for a state championship after being put on a year’s probation for starting practice too early.

After the rout was over, Northwest players drenched coach Bobby Franklin as a half-birthday, half-state championship celebration.

“It’s kind of both,” said Franklin, whose team beat Hinds for the state championship a season ago.

Eugene Egerson, a lightning-quick wide receiver from Lafayette County, hauled in a pair of touchdown passes and returned a punt 35 yards for a score as the Rangers turned a 10-7 deficit their first of the season into nightmarish second and third quarters for the Eagles.

“This was an embarrassing loss,” Hinds coach Gene Murphy said. “… Our players didn’t quite understand the mindset that we had to have to play against a team as talented as Northwest. We created a lot of problems for ourselves.”

Those came in the form of four first-half turnovers that led directly to 14 Northwest points. The Rangers held a 21-10 lead at the break.

“Both teams seemed to come out a little tight,” said Egerson, whose only catches of the night went for scores. “We were able to capitalize on their mistakes.”

Northwest fumbled on the opening play from scrimmage, but Eagles’ quarterback Brad Banks fumbled it right back two plays later at their own 7. Anton Paige found the end zone for a 9-yard score two possessions later for a 7-0 Northwest lead.

Banks came back and scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper with 10:03 to play to knot the game at 7. The score was set up by a 61-yard screen catch-and-run to Chauncey Stovall, who led all receivers with 99 yards on seven catches. Banks finished his worst game of the year 13 for 32 with 173 yards.

Trey Crum added a 36-yard field goal three minutes later, giving the Eagles their short-lived 10-7 lead.

“We weren’t very shocked when they went up,” Hall said. “Take nothing away from them, Hinds has a very good defense, but we were able to stick together and come back.”

The vaunted Hinds “Brick Wall” defense recovered a fumble and had an interception in the first half, but spent most of the night chasing Hall and a host of Rangers’ wide receivers. At the end, after allowing 353 yards over 200 more than their average the Eagles simply ran out of gas.

Egerson’s two TD catches and punt return were sandwiched by a 41-yard scoring pass to Durrell Weekly and a 4-yarder to Ty Freeman.

“A lot of (our defensive weariness) was due to poor offensive execution,” Murphy said. “That’s the easiest way to cut your own throat is not executing. That’s exactly what we did.”

Franklin’s charges continued to try to put points on the board until the end.

Northwest ran from a five-receiver shotgun set with less than a minute to play in the game. The Rangers threw to the end zone once and missed their third field goal of the night with 28 seconds left.

“I think they were trying to embarrass us instead of just running the ball,” ex-Vicksburg High standout Jason Myers said. “We don’t appreciate that at all, but that’s just Northwest. That’s what they do.

“But we know we still have a chance for a state championship and they have none.”