By Kevin O’Rourke
In what was one of the most exciting football games in Montgomery County this season, the Northwest Jaguars were able to keep their perfect season intact thanks to a wide receiver running the wrong route.
The Jags were able to out gun the Clarksburg Coyotes 44-34, thanks in large part to Jamar Wilson running the wrong receiving route on a fourth-and 10 play from the Clarksburg 18-yard-line. As Northwest quarterback Mark Pierce dropped back to pass he threw the ball to the end zone and Wilson seemed to materialize out of thin air to haul in the touchdown pass. It was Wislon’s third touchdown pass of the game.
“He ran the wrong route,” laughed Northwest Head Coach Michael Neubesier after the victory. “But he ended up in the right spot, it just worked out for us and we got lucky on that one.”
Wilson’s touchdown, which came with 3:46 left in the game, would put the game finally out of reach.
The game began with an E.J. Lee 70-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and the feeling in The Canyon at Clarksburg High School was that Northwest was back to business as usual. However, the Coyotes had other plans.
On the next possession, Clarksburg senior quarterback Joe Nacci would sprint 56 yards to the Northwest 20 yard-line. A Northwest personal foul would move the ball to the five-yard line. Nacci would keep the ball and score to tie game 7-7 with 9:46 left in the first. It was just the third touchdown the Jags had given up all season.
Indeed, this game would see the Jags defense, which has been very stingy all season, give up 34 points. “They were definitely tested tonight,” said Neubeiser. “Clarksburg is a good football team and they played well offensively. They really exposed us a little bit, we missed tackles and we played sloppily on defense.”
Both offenses would trade punts, before Northwest would strike again with a 55-yard pass from Mark Pierce to Jamar Wilson, for his first on the night.
The next Clarksburg possession would end with a two yard run from scrimmage to tie the game. The score was set up by a drive which was helped by two Northwest penalties. The Coyote drive had stalled at the Northwest 40-yard line, but another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave Clarksburg a first-and-10 at the Jags 25-yard line. Northwest held and forced the Coyotes to try a field goal, which was no good, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave Clarksburg a fresh set of downs on the Northwest doorstep. Clarksburg would tie the game at 14 with a three-yard touchdown run.
“We had a lack of focus in the first half,” said Neubeiser. “We jumped offsides on a fourth and three and then we tried to jump in front of the kicker (on the field goal) and landed on top of the long snapper and got a penalty. Those were two gimmies and that kills you. But, I’d rather do that in a victory than in a loss.”
In the end the Northwest gameplan came down to the three guys that have been the offensive engine for this team all season. The Pierce-Lee-Wilson Show was in good form Friday night as Lee and Wilson combined for five touchdowns. Wilson had three scores (including the wrong route touchdown to put the game out of reach) on five receptions for 130 yards. Pierce would throw for 286 yards and four touchdowns. And Lee would end the night with two touchdowns.
Wilson’s second score would come with 6:19 left in the first half, as he collected a Pierce pass for a 20 yard touchdown, Jags lead 21-14. Lee’s second touchdown would also be a pass from Pierce with less than one minute left in the half. Pierce would hit Lee with a 35 yard pass to put the Jags up 28-14 with 46 second remaining.
The Coyotes did not go away quietly, down by 14 points they picked off a Pierce pass and return it 40-yards to set up their offense on the Northwest goal line. Clarksburg’s Tyler Fenslau would dive into the end zone to cut the lead to 28-21 with 9:27 remaining in the third quarter.
A Clarksburg defensive stand near their own goal line force Northwest to settle of for a field goal which stretched the lead to 31-21.
Seven minutes into the third quarter, the Coyotes would come howling back with a 79-yard pass and run from Nacci to senior Travis Holland. Clarksburg cut the lead to 31-27. The Jags Troy Lefeged blocked the extra point attempt.
A 20-yard run E.J. Lee run put the ball back in the Clarksburg end zone. The extra point was no good. Jags led 37-27 with 4:10 left in the third quarter. The Coyotes would answer again with a 57-yard touchdown run by Fenslau, for his second score of the game.
The fourth quarter would start with Northwest leading by three points. Both teams would exchange punts and the Jags would drive down to the Clarksburg 18-yard line. It was here that Wilson would run the wrong route, see the ball hanging in the air, sprint to it and secure both the ball and the victory.
The next possession, the Coyotes would move the ball down the field on the legs of their quarterback Nacci, who would see an opening up the middle and sprint for a 40 yard gain, putting his team in business inside the Northwest 15-yard line. Clarksburg would work the ball down to the goal line, and would take four shots at the end zone, but the Northwest defense would repel each attempt. Mark Pierce and Jag offense would take over on their own one yard line with 70 seconds left in the game. A single snap and quarterback keeper would allow for time to run down and ensure the Northwest victory, extending the team’s win streak to 14.
Next week, the Jags will be tested again as they host 7-1 Quince Orchard on Saturday, Nov. 1. Quince Orchard is coming off of a 52-0 dismantling of Gaithersburg on Friday. The Cougars are currently sitting at number two in the MoCoFooball Elite Six rankings. Northwest maintains the top spot in the Elite Six, with Damascus sitting in the second spot.
Top: The game began with an E.J. Lee 70-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
Next: Northwest would score on 55-yard pass from Mark Pierce to Jamar Wilson (1), for his first on the night.
Next: The Clarksburg offense led by quarterback Joe Nacci (18) tested Chuck Arya (8) and the stingy Northwest defense by putting up five touchdowns. It was the first time a team had reached the end zone more than once against the Jags all season.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.