Photo: Jackson Uselton hit four field goals in Thursday’s win, becoming the first Ranger kicker since 2020 to make or attempt four field goals in a single game. (Courtesy nwccrangers.com)
Credit: Northwest Mississippi Community College sports information release
Freshman kicker Jackson Uselton of Hernando knocked through four field goals and one point-after attempt, as No. 11 Northwest kept Hinds out of the end zone in a 19-3 triumph on Thursday evening.
Uselton hit field goals from a 23-39 yard range, becoming the first Northwest kicker to convert four field goals in a single game since Dec. 5, 2020, when Tucker Barefoot went 4-for-4 in the Rangers’ MACCC and National Community College Football Championship victory at Mississippi Gulf Coast.
With the win, the Rangers moved to 1-1 on the season and captured their sixth straight win against the Eagles (0-2), the ninth win in the last 10 meetings. Northwest now leads the all-time series against Hinds by a 32-18-3 margin.
Hinds moved the ball quickly to open the game, as the duo of quarterback Kabe Barnett and Jerrell Boyd took the Eagles inside Northwest territory. However, the Rangers’ defense made the first of many pivotal stops on the evening, as Tristan Shorter stopped Jayden Reed’s carry on a fourth and short from the 25-yard line. The turnover on downs set up an 11-play, 53-yard drive that ended in Uselton’s 39-yard field goal.
Leading 3-0 late in the first quarter, Northwest once again stifled the Eagles’ offensive drive, halting Hinds near midfield. Shorter once again came up with the stop, earning a third down sack that forced a Tanner Hollingsworth punt with less than a minute to go in the opening quarter.
After the Rangers went three-and-out at the start of the second quarter, Hinds once again worked the ball down inside the 40-yard line. Once again though, the Eagles went for it on fourth and short, only for Ja’Marlin Green to come up with a three-yard tackle-for-loss on Zailon Johnson. The turnover on downs put Northwest in excellent field position for its next offensive opportunity.
Back-to-back pass completions from Keegan Patterson to Derrick Harden and Jarnorris Hopson pushed the Rangers into Hinds territory, and Northwest even entered the red zone after a nine-yard completion to JaBrysten Abram. However, Northwest could not punch it in from five yards out, leaving Uselton to convert a 23-yard field goal and push the lead to 6-0 with 8:06 left in the second quarter.
Both teams traded empty possessions for several minutes before halftime, but Northwest did get one final momentum push entering the break. After downing a punt at the one-yard line, the Rangers’ defense forced a short Hinds punt from the back of the end zone, setting up Northwest from the Eagles’ 20-yard line with 3:04 left. A 22-yard scamper from Patterson brought the Rangers closer to the end zone and two plays later, Will Dabney scored on a short touchdown reception, making the score 13-0 entering halftime.
Despite the way the first half ended, it was Hinds that got the first flicker of life in the second half. After Patterson’s second pass of the third quarter was picked off by Janari Powell, the Eagles used the speed of Boyd to get deep into the Rangers’ red zone. Set up at the one-yard line, Hinds failed to score on three plays and eventually settled for the short field goal from Hollingsworth.
For Hinds, those would wind being the only points of the evening. Later in the third, Northwest opened a scoring drive with a long 66-yard rush by D’mariun Perteet, eventually setting up another Uselton field goal from 34 yards out, stretching the Rangers’ lead to 16-3 with 3:33 left in the quarter.
Hinds once again went three-and-out on its next possession, setting up another long drive for the Rangers that carried into the fourth quarter. Northwest marched 81 yards down the field, but ultimately came up empty-handed on a two-yard loss by Xavier Davis and a missed field goal from Uselton, his lone blemish of the evening.
Despite the missed scoring chance, Northwest made up for it four plays later with another big defensive stop. On a six-yard rush from Boyd, the ball was punched out by Avontae Wilson and recovered by Charles Thomas, setting up the Rangers at the Eagles’ 41-yard line with 8:24 left.
Hinds’ turnover proved to be the fatal blow for the Eagles, as Northwest burned four minutes and change off the clock on a 31-yard drive. Although the Rangers were still unable to find the end zone, Uselton knocked through his fourth and final field goal of the evening, a 27-yard kick that brought the score to its final point of 19-3.
Hinds closed the game with a 10-play, 36-yard drive and actually entered the Rangers’ red zone one final time. However, an incomplete pass set up fourth down for the Eagles and Kamp Shepherd delivered a 10-yard sack of Jordyn Battee, forcing one last turnover on downs and victory formation for Northwest.
Northwest finished with 387 yards of total offense, including 208 rushing yards. Perteet logged 76 yards on five carries, while Patterson finished with 57 yards on eight attempts, along with 18 completions for 179 yards and a passing touchdown.
Jevell Fugerson led all Ranger receivers with four catches for 65 yards. Kyler Hutton, K.D. Gibson and Rashard Daniels all had 20 yards receiving, with Gibson earning all 22 of his yards on one catch.
Defensively, JyKeon Cunningham led with eight tackles, while Shorter and Shepherd logged seven apiece. For Shepherd, the freshman from Flora garnered two tackles-for-loss for 12 yards, while Shorter also had a sack for a seven-yard loss.
Despite only netting one tackle, D.J. Burgess applied pressure throughout the evening, finishing with four quarterback hurries. Dyllon Bullard also collected six tackles, while Green finished with five tackles, a TFL and a pass breakup.
Hinds finished with just 149 yards of total offense, including 84 on the ground. Boyd’s 51 yards were the highlight for the Eagles, while Ja’Marian Johnson’s 22-yard catch was one of the few bright spots in the Hinds’ receiving corps.
Kelbee Holmes led the Eagles on defense, notching seven tackles and a tackle-for-loss. Jeremy Evans also collected six tackles, followed by five apiece from K’Swaya Moffett, Jr. and Zack Andrews.
Northwest will remain at the friendly confines of Ranger Stadium at Bobby Franklin Field for next Thursday’s contest against Pearl River. The Wildcats are 0-2 entering the match up, but lead the all-time series 26-14 against the Rangers.