It wasn’t pretty, and Jags Head Coach Mike Neubeiser told his team as such after the game, but the Northwest Jaguars won the Battle of Germantown and retained ownership of The King’s Trophy for another year. Northwest defeated cross-town rival Seneca Valley 31-6, shutting out the Screamin’ Eagles until the final four seconds of the game.
The heightened rivalry between the two teams showed up in numerous personal fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct on both teams. The game remained hard fought, and the officials never let it get out of hand, as the two schools renewed the rivalry which Seneca leads 11-7, but the Jags have now won two years in a row. Northwest won at Seneca Valley last year 35-23.
Coming into the game, the Jags were the highest scoring team in Montgomery County, scoring 101 points in the first two weeks of the season, while Seneca Valley’s defense had not let up a touchdown. (Gaithersburg scored 2 points on the Eagles last week on a safety, but the defense wasn’t on the field at the time.)
Seneca never really got things going. An early break on a muffed punt ended in a three-and-out. The Eagles’ second possession seemed to be going better. Junior running back Semaj Meannu found an opening and scampered to daylight and what would have been a huge gain, but he lost the handle on the ball as he was hit by Northwest’s senior cornerback Matt Berman. The Jags’ Norval Black was there to recover the ball inches before it went out of bounds.
That turnover led to the Jags’ first points of the game. Two plays later, senior quarterback Chris Craddock threw a long pass to Alphonso Foray, hitting him in stride. Foray was able to shake a Seneca defender and make it into the endzone to stake the Jags to a 7-0 lead in the first.
The Jags defense, which was missing some key players due to injury, stayed tough and forced Seneca into long third down situations. After the long run and turnover, Seneca could never establish a dangerous running game. The Jags defense made Seneca throw the ball. The Jags defensive line and ends harassed Seneca’s senior quarterback Mike Kapneck just about every time he dropped back to pass. He would have to roll out to avoid a rusher and make throws on the run. The Jags defensive front did not allow him to get comfortable in the pocket.
“They played well. I was proud of those guys,” said Coach Neubeiser after the game. “We put them in some tough situations – the muffed punt and another time we gave them a short field. It was an amazing stop. It was huge. You could say that Seneca’s execution wasn’t great and they dropped some balls. But their quarterback was being pressured all game. The D-line and the outside linebackers that we sent after him were coming hard and they brought a lot of pressure. They did a good job.”
The Jags settled a for a field goal early in the second quarter. Steve Delgato knocked through a 25-yarder to extend the lead to 10-0. Later in the second, Craddock found Norval Black for a six-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 17-0, which is where it stayed until the after halftime.
As the second half started, the game was still very much in reach for Seneca Valley. The two quarterback’s traded interceptions. First Norval Black got his second turnover of the game as he stepped in front of a pass along the sideline. However, three plays later, Northwest returned the favor, and Harold Dotson intercepted a Craddock pass close to midfield.
However, the Jags defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out. The punt was blocked and picked up by senior defensive lineman Geovanni Hernandez who ran it 30 yards to seal the game for the Jags, 24-0 in the third quarter.
The Jags were able to put an exclamation point on the game in the fourth quarter, as senior running back Juwon Farri broke free for a 40-yard gain, which set up his 21-yard touchdown run making the score 31-0 late in the game. Farri has now scored nine touchdowns in the first three games of the season.
“Fun fact is I have never scored on Seneca until tonight,” said Farri. “It was a relief when I did score. I was trusting my team. If my team did well, I know I would do well. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.”
Seneca later scored on a five-yard pass from Kapneck to junior receiver Jamal Snowden to get the Eagles on the board in the final seconds of the game. Seneca Valley is now 2-1 on the season and will return “home” (Gaithersburg) to play Watkins Mill on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 5:30 pm. The Wolverines mauled B-CC on Friday 48-0.
Northwest remains unbeaten, 3-0, and will be on the road at Gaithersburg next week. The Trojans lost ton Churchill 42-13 on Friday and continue to search for their first win this season.
Top: Northwest’ senior quarterback Chris Craddock (12) drops back to pass during Friday’s victory over cross-town rival Seneca Valley.
Video: Highlights of the Battle for the King’s Trophy.
Next: Seneca Valley’s quarterback Michael Kapneck (6) was under pressure from Northwest’s front all night. Here he rolls out to evade the grasp of Juwon Farri (1).
Next: Northwest did a good job of stopping Seneca’s running game. Seneca’s Semaj Meannu (20) is tackled by Northwest’s senior linebacker Greg Bullard (5) with help from fellow senior Nico Berns (50).
Next: Northwest’s senior defender Matt Berman (28) hits Seneca’s Semaj Meannu (20) dislodging the ball after a long run from scrimmage. Northwest would recover.
Next: Juwon Farri (1) ran for a touchdown late in the game to extend the Jag’s lead. He now has nine touchdowns in three games.
Photos and video by Germantown Pulse.