In a game that, at times, felt like a war of attrition due to a plethora of penalties, as well as a lightning delay which halted play for more than an hour, Northwest defeated Gaithersburg 27-0 to begin its march toward a third-straight state title.
From the first series in the game, senior linebacker Caleb Gills made sure that the Gaithersburg Trojans understood that he was going to be the man to stop them. In the first series, Gills stopped Gaithersburg’s senior quarterback Carlin Bason for a loss and broke into the backfield to rush a pass that fell incomplete forcing the Trojans to punt.
“Caleb Gills was everywhere on defense all game,” said Northwest Head Coach Mike Neubeiser after the game. “He was relentless. He kept coming every single play and never gave up. He was in their backfield all night long. Defensively he was so physical and aggressive. Offensively he did a tremendous job blocking. Those are things that people don’t notice. He did a really good job.”
In what was indicative of the night, the Jags Ibrahim Konate returned the punt all the way down to the Gaithersburg 32 yard line, but a holding call brought the ball all the way back to the Northwest 36. Both teams would suffer from numerous penalties in the game, in which both teams showed promise for the season, but also displayed some rust.
The Jags high-powered offense showed some signs of rust against an improved Gaithersburg team. The Jags came out throwing, and Mark Pierce connected on his first three passes to three different receivers, one to sophomore Alphonso Foray, one to Gills, and a third to junior Reggie Anderson. It seemed like the Jags were rolling, but the next two passes missed the mark, and the Jags had to punt.
The Jags and Trojans would trade punts again in the first quarter until Pierce would hit Alphonso Foray on a screen pass. Foray would weave through defenders for a 43-yard touchdown to give Northwest a 7-0 lead after the J.J. Funez kick.
Northwest would score again with 2:38 remaining in the second quarter as junior running back Khalil Owens would run the ball in from the four-yard line to extend the lead to 14-0. Northwest would take that lead into halftime.
The third quarter would be interrupted at 5:47 remaining by lightning, from a storm that halted play at a number of high school games in Montgomery County on Friday night. While it never rained in Gaithersburg, the storm forced some games to be postponed until the following day, including the Rockville at Walter Johnson and Watkins Mill at Frederick High School.
The lightning forced officials and administrators to evacuate the stadium in Gaithersburg and ask all fans to either shelter in the gym or their cars. It was more than hour before play resumed.
“The delay didn’t really seem to affect our kids too much,” said Neubeiser, “They came out and played well.”
After the delay, Northwest would find the end zone after sophomore Juwon Farri would find a hole and break out for a 39 yard run, only to be taken down by a soccer tackle at the one yard line, on a play that should have drawn a tripping penalty on Gaithersburg’s Ulysses Martinez. Farri would score the first of two touchdowns with a two-yard run to pay dirt. Farri’s second touchdown was an 11-yard scamper to put the Jags up 27-0.
Gaithersburg would find some success moving the ball at times in the game, but Northwest’s defense would eventually smother any attempt to put together a sustained drive. Northwest benefited from a great defensive game from Gills as well as senior defensive end Latif Mahamdou and linebacker Ty Richardson.
Next Friday, Northwest will host the Battle for Germantown and the King’s Trophy as Seneca Valley will come to the Black Hole in an attempt to avenge last year’s 46-6 pounding by the Jags. Seneca Valley is coming off of a victory over Poolesville 41-13.
“They are good,” said Nuebeiser of Seneca Valley. “They are improved offensively and defensively. They have a lot of good players that have come back from last year.” The Jags have taken home the Kings Trophy for two straight years.
Top: Northwest junior running back Juwon Farri (8) breaks through the Gaithersburg defense. He would score two second-half touchdowns as the Jags defeated Gaithersburg 27-0 on Friday.
Next: Sophomore Alphonso Foray (9) would score after catching a screen pass from Mark Pierce to put the Jags up 7-0 in the second quarter.
Next: Mark Pierce (11) looks for a receiver in Northwest’s victory over Gaithersburg.
Next: Senior running back Khalil Owens (4) runs away from Gaithersburg defender Jack Creamer (10). Owens would score in the victory.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.