By Shawn Wansley, Jones Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – All signs pointed to a close game between No. 6 Jones and No. 5 Northwest in the MACJC semifinals.
And all of the signs were correct.
The Bobcats edged the Rangers 36-34 here on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.
The Rangers had a first and 10 at the Jones’ 37 with 1:01 left, no timeouts remaining and needing only a field goal to win the game.
But four incomplete passes later, the Bobcats celebrated on their home turf.
Jones, 9-1, will now host top-ranked East Mississippi at 2 p.m. on Nov. 10 for the MACJC championship. The Lions, 10-0, defeated No. 15 Copiah-Lincoln 31-7 in Saturday’s other semifinal game.
The heroes were many for Jones.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett (Blackshear, Georgia) was 19-of-27 for 314 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Wide receiver Natorian Watts (Petal) had five catches for 107 yards and two scores and wide receiver Immanuel Jones (Amory) had five catches for 120 yards. Wide receiver Gabe Douglas (Denton, Texas) had six receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive end Chei Hill (Miami, Florida) had nine tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack. He leads the nation with 32 TFLs. Linebacker Nick Anderson (Vicksburg) had nine tackles, linebacker Daylen Gill (Louisville) had seven tackles and two TFLs and safety Fred Peters (Columbia) had six tackles and one TFL.
Cristofer Thompson (Adams County Christian School) was 3-for-3on field goals, including kicks of 50, 44 and 20 yards.
On a negative note, Jones lost three fumbles and had a pass interception, while the Rangers did not turn the ball over. But Jones managed to overcome those mistakes.
The game was back and forth and came down to the final part of the fourth quarter.
Leading 29-28, Jones went 73 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. Donte Edwards (Mobile, Alabama) went over on a 6-yard run and Thompson’s extra point made it 36-28 with 7:51 left.
Northwest then took the ensuing kickoff and went 75 yards in 17 plays. Chris Calvert scored on a 3-yard run to make it 36-34 with 1:01 left. On the two-point play, quarterback Jacob Free’s pass was knocked down by Peters in the end zone.
But Northwest’s Jayce Rogers recovered the onside kick attempt and the Rangers were in business at their own 47-yard line with 1:01 left and no timeouts.
Free connected with Braden Smith on a 16-yard pass to the Bobcat 37.
But his next four attempts were incomplete and Jones took over with 24 seconds to play.
Bennett took a knee and the game was over.
The Bobcats started the game off with a good drive.
Jones moved from its 30 to the Ranger 25, but turned the ball over by a fumble.
The Bobcats would score on its next possession when Bennett found “Deuce” Watts behind the defense for a 59-yard touchdown pass. Thompson’s conversion made it 7-0 with 7:25 left in the first quarter.
Northwest tied it in the second quarter when they went 80 yards in 12 plays. Free hit Braden Smith from 12 yards away for the score. Chris Taylor’s extra point made it 7-7 with 9:35 left in the first half.
But the Bobcats responded with a 75-yard, eight-play drive, which culminated with a 13-yard Bennett to Watts’ scoring pass. Thompson’s PAT made it 14-7 with 5:58 showing in the first half.
Jones took the second half kickoff and went from its 30 to the Ranger 27 in 10 plays. The drive stalled and Thompson booted a 44-yard field goal to make it 17-7 with 12:23 to play in the third quarter.
Northwest quickly answered when Free found Smith for a 37-yard touchdown pass to cap a 75-yard, four-play drive. Taylor’s extra point made it 17-14 with 11:17 showing in the third quarter.
The Bobcats would fumble the ball away on its next possession, giving the Rangers the ball at the Jones’ 19.
Three plays later, Free connected with Hunt on a 17-yard scoring strike. Taylor’s kick gave Northwest its first lead at 21-17 with 9:53 left in the third quarter.
Jones would come back and get a 51-yard run from Bennett to set up a first and goal at the 3. But the Bobcats could not punch it in and had to settle for a 20-yard Thompson field goal to make it 21-20 with 7:12 left in the third quarter.
After forcing a ‘three and out’ the Bobcats took over at the Northwest 40 after a 20-yard punt.
Jones could not pick up a first down, but Thompson came through with a 50-yard field goal to give Jones a 23-21 lead with 4:43 to play in the third quarter.
Jones then forced another punt, but this time the Bobcats fumbled and Northwest recovered at the Jones’ 36.
Three plays later, Free connected with Hunt around the 18. Hunt was hit hard, the ball popped up in the air and teammate Demarcus Jones caught it and ran into the end zone to complete the 32-yard touchdown play. Taylor’s extra point gave the Rangers a 28-23 lead with 1:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Jones, however, responded quickly.
Bennett would find Douglas for a 4-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. The run for two by Davis Harrison (Lamar School) was stopped, but Jones led 29-28 with 14:56 left in the game. The big play in the 66-yard, five-play drive was a 60-yard pass from Bennett to Jones.
After being penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, the Bobcats kicked off from their own 20. Jones caught the Rangers by surprise and Thompson recovered his own onside kick at the Jones’ 31.
But the Rangers would come up with an interception and take over at the Bobcat 45.
Northwest moved to the Jones’ 27, but a 44-yard field goal attempt was no good.
The Bobcats took over and drove for a score to take an eight-point lead, setting up the final exciting minutes of the game.
Free was 16-of-37 through the air for 248 yards and four scores for Northwest. Calvert rushed 23 times for 88 yards and Smith had eight catches for 140 yards and two scores. Jonathan Jones had 15 tackles for the Rangers.
Northwest is 8-2 on the season.
Jones College 36, Northwest 34
Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field
Northwest (8-2) 0 7 21 6 – 34
Jones College (9-1) 7 7 9 13 – 36
1stquarter – Jones, Natorian Watts 59-yard pass from Stetson Bennett, 7:25. Cristofer Thompson PAT. 7-0, Jones.
2ndquarter – Northwest, Braden Smith 12-yard pass from Jacob Free, 9:35. Chris Taylor PAT. 7-7.
2ndquarter – Jones, Natorian Watts 13-yard pass from Bennett, 5:58. Thompson PAT. 14-7, Jones.
3rdquarter – Jones, Thompson 44-yard field goal, 12:23. 17-7, Jones.
3rdquarter – Northwest, Smith 37-yard pass from Free, 11:17. Taylor PAT. 17-14, Jones.
3rdquarter – Northwest, Monterrio Hunt 17-yard pass from Free, 9:53. Taylor PAT. 21-17, Northwest.
3rdquarter – Jones, Thompson 20-yard field goal, 7:12. 21-20, Northwest.
3rdquarter – Jones, Thompson 50-yard field goal, 4:43. 23-21, Jones.
3rdquarter – Northwest, Demarcus Jones 32-yard pass from Free, 1:27. Taylor PAT. 28-23, Northwest.
4thquarter – Jones, Gabe Douglas 4-yard pass from Bennett, 14:56. Run failed. 29-28, Jones.
4thquarter – Jones, Donte Edwards 6-yard run, 7:51. Thompson PAT. 36-28, Jones.
4thquarter – Northwest, Chris Calvert 3-yard run, 1:04. Pass failed. 36-34, Jones.
24 FD 16
51-149 Rushes-Yards 36-129
16-37-0 Comp-Att-Int 20-29-1
248 Passing Yards 318
397 Total Offense 447
5-41 Penalties-Yards 9-68
7-31.6 Punts-Ave. 3-30.7
2-0 Fumbles-Lost 5-3
JC – Stetson Bennett 6-65; Kalyn Grandberry 14-47; Donte Edwards 14-30; Immanuel Jones 1-1.
Johnquarise Patterson 1-3
JC – Stetson Bennett 19-27-1 for 314; Fred Barnum 1-2-0 for 4.
JC–Gabe Douglas 6-71; Immanuel Jones 5-120; Natorian Watts 5-107; Nataurean Watts 2-16; Brodie King 1-4; Dontavious Porter 1-0.