The Northwest Jags went into Friday’s game with a sense of hope. Hope that they would be able to come up with a bit of the Jags magic from last week’s third-straight regional-final victory over Quince Orchard. The Jags were hoping for a bit more magic to help secure a third straight bid to the Maryland 4A Championship game with a victory over Wise.
But it seems all the magic was used up to get past Quince Orchard. The 9-3 Northwest Jaguars were overmatched against the 12-0 Pumas of Dr. Henry A. Wise High School, in Upper Marlboro. The Jags played from behind all game and lost their first post-season game since 2013, by a 37-15 margin.
Wise senior running back C.J. Rainey stole all the magic and used it to run for over 200 yards against the Northwest defense. The Pumas combination of Rainey’s ability to move the ball and the Jags inability to connect on offense put an end the Northwest’s hope of a three-peat as state champs.
“Up-front they have big kids, and they did a really good job of blocking our guys,” said Northwest Head Coach Mike Neubeiser. “I am very proud of this team. We came in here with three losses. We improved a lot, every week we got a little bit better. We improved a lot from where we came from; we made too many mistakes tonight, but overall we are a better team from where we started.”
The Jags were unable to get much going on offense against a Wise defense that has not allowed more than one touchdown in a game all season. Northwest took the opening kick, and the first drive was a microcosm of the way the game with for the Jags. Senior quarterback Mark Pierce got the drive moving with a short pass to junior receiver Reggie Anderson, and a Kahlil Owens run earned a first down. But then a penalty and a sack forced a punt.
For most of the game, the Jag offense would show promise with a long pass, but fizzle when the ball was long or dropped by the receiver.
Wise would take advantage of field position and a running game which allowed them to chew up yardage and clock on drives to score on two first half drives and put the Jags in a 16-0 hole. The first was a short pass from junior quarterback Jabari Laws to senior receiver Myles Wolfork, the second would be a four-yard plunge by Rainey.
The Jags would answer right back on the ensuing kickoff as senior Marvin Foray would return the kick 93 yards to get the Jags on board. Pierce would connect with Foray’s younger brother junior receiver, Alphonso Foray on the two-point conversion. The Jags cut the lead to 16-8.
However, Northwest could not get on the board again until the fourth quarter, but the Wise offense continue to move the chains and extend the lead. Laws would connect Wolfolk again to extend the lead to 30-8.
The Jags defense would hold on fourth down inside their own ten, forcing Wise to turn the ball on downs.
The Jags would put together their best drive of the game culminating in a four-yard touchdown pass to Kahlil Owens, which cut the lead to 30-15.
However, Wise would answer back. Lawes connected with senior receiver Damon Hayes, in the end zone. Hayes would make an athletic diving catch in the end zone to seal the victory.
Unbeaten Wise will face unbeaten Howard in the 4A final in M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore next Friday night.
Top: Wise’s senior running back C.J. Rainey (2) reaches the ball over the goal line for the Pumas second touchdown in Friday night’s 4A semi-final game.
Next: Senior Martin Foray (2) returns a kickoff 93 yards to put the Jags on the scoreboard.
Next: The Jags saw too much of Rainey (2), who ran for over 200 yards. Here he’s being tackled by junior linebacker Sam Pagella (52) and three other Jags.
Next: Kahlil Owens, (4) dives for the end zone to score on a four-yard pass from Mark Pierce.
Next: The Wise defense made life difficult for Pierce (11)who was sacked three times, once by junior linebacker Malcolm Sumler (9).
Photos by Germantown Pulse.