After falling behind by two touchdowns in the game's opening nine minutes, Northwest Mississippi Community College got back on track with three first half touchdown drives and held Coahoma scoreless in the second half to rally for a 35-24 come-from-behind win Thursday night at James E. Miller Stadium.
Northwest improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the North Division, topping Coahoma for a 42nd time in the last 44 meetings. The Tigers remained winless on the year.
Coahoma marched 68 yards right down the field on its opening drive of the game and it paid off on Myron Norfleet's seven-yard quarterback keeper.
After forcing a Northwest three-and-out deep in its own territory, Coahoma used a short field to quickly move 40 yards in seven plays to take a 14-0 lead. Jaylin Jones scored from a yard out after Norfleet was 3-for-4 for 46 yards on the drive.
Trailing by two scores with 5:20 left in the quarter, Northwest's offense started to find its rhythm.
Jacob Free hit Demarcus Jones for a big 41-yard gain and then kept it for a 14-yard scramble before finding Braden Smith from eight yards out for a score. The drive traveled 70 yards on just four plays over 1:14.
Coahoma ran a fake punt on its ensuing drive on fourth-and-11 that eventually led to a Chasten Lamb 32-yard field goal to make it 17-7 Tigers.
Back-to-back touchdown drives from the Rangers, the first one a 10-play, 86-yard drive, put the visitors on top for the first time, 21-17, with 6:12 to play in the half. Chris Calvert scored from five yards out, his team-leading eighth rushing score of the year, and Jaxton Carson ran it in from two yards.
A Northwest special teams miscue helped the Tigers retake the lead less than five minutes later with a bad snap on a punt sailing minus-33 yards into Coahoma territory. Three plays later, Norfleet hit Stefan Harmon for an 11-yard touchdown to give Coahoma a 24-21 lead at the half.
Neither team could get anything going to start the third quarter, with Northwest going three-and-out three straight drives and the Tigers punting three times.
Northwest then retook the lead for good with 2:55 left in the third quarter, with Free hitting Monterio Hunt for a 39-yard gain, followed by a 27-yard strike to JaVonta Payton to make it 28-24 in just 27 seconds.
Urriah Shephard's first career rushing touchdown extended the lead to 35-24 to start the fourth quarter and the Ranger defense didn't allow anything the rest of the way in a second half shutout.
Former Olive Branch Conquistador Robert Miller had a game-high 12 tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack, followed by a big night from ex-Southaven standout Brandin Echols, who had five tackles, four pass breakups, a fumble recovery and interception.
Northwest narrowly outgained Coahoma 356-340, with Free finishing 19-of-30 for 323 yards and two touchdowns, hitting eight different receivers. Maurice Toney had a career-high 103 yards on two long catches. Carson, Calvert and Shephard all scored on the ground.
The Rangers will welcome division rival Northeast to town next Thursday at 6:30 to close out the 2018 home schedule.
Kevin Maloney is Sports Information Director at Northwest Mississippi Community College.