skip to Main Content

Western football team rolls past Northwest, can clinch playoff spot against Dexter

 By Mike Moore
JTV Sports Writer

 Jackson – One win away.

A program that’s suffered through a postseason drought since its inception, the Western football team is now that close to breathing the rare air of the playoffs.

One win away.

“We knew Northwest would give us their best effort, and they played us very tough,” Western coach Dave Mifsud said after his guys beat the Mounties 45-20 Friday night to improve to 5-3 on the season. “Give them a lot of credit, they probably played the best they have in the past three or four games. Our focus was to get past this one. We got the win. We’re one step closer to our goal.”

Northwest played like a team with nothing to lose, and started the game with a bang, recovering an onside kick.

But shortly after, Steele Fortress picked off a Ryan Crowley pass and Western took over at its own 37-yard line.

The Panthers then matched 63 yards in nearly eight minutes before Fortress hit Austen Cooper with a 29-yard touchdown pass on fourth down.

Shortly after a Northwest punt, the Panthers went up 13-0 when Cooper hit Mason Callow with a 58-yard strike.

But Northwest answered with its best drive in weeks, starting at it’s own 35 and needing less than two minutes to get the first touchdown for the team since Week 5 when Ryan Crowley hit Darius Case with a 42-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.

Western answered back twice before halftime, though, as Fortress scored on a 2-yard run with 6:23 to play, and then hit Hunter Page with 15-yard touchdown toss with just 44 seconds remaining for a 25-7 lead at the break.

“(Northwest) did a nice job moving the ball against our defense. We had to make a couple adjustments,” Mifsud said. “But what was key was offensively, we were pretty efficient in the first half with our early possessions.”

Western put the game out of reach in the third quarter when Cooper hauled in an 8-yard pass from Fortress with 8:03 to play, and seven minutes later Mason Callow scored on a 3-yard run.

Crowley hit Case with a 30-yard touchdown pass with 3:50 to play in regulation for Northwest, and Logan Everett scored on a 1-yard run with 57 seconds remaining, but Andru Maynard capped the scoring with a 31-yard run with .02 seconds to play.

Fortress complete 11-of-15 passes for 168 yards and three scores, while Cooper was 1-of-1 passing for the 58-yard touchdown.

Page led the receiving core with 97 yards on five catches. Cooper had five catches for 67 yards, while Maynard led the rushing attack with 64 yards. Luke Raczkowski had 38 yards on three carries, while Fortress had 34 yards on nine carries.

Western finished the game with 440 yards of offense, while holding Northwest to 243.

Northwest, now 0-8, closes the season against Leslie (2-6) this weekend.

Crowley finished Friday night with 83 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Everett had 96 yards rushing on 24 carries, while Zane Wheeler rushed five times for 24 yards.

The Panthers can clinch their first ever berth in the state playoffs with a victory this coming weekend against Dexter.

The Dreadnaughts are 0-8 on the season, have been shut out three times while averaging just 7.8 points per game.

Dexter is in the midst of a 22-game losing streak dating back to September of 2013.

“We know Dexter has been struggling, but they play tough, physical football,” Mifsud said. “We match up pretty evenly athletically. They might be a little beaten down at this stage of the game. But one of our goals is to perform our best every day. One of our other goals is to compete at a high level. We have to go out and execute, and do our jobs, and reach those goals.”

One win away.

Back To Top