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By Harry Lichtman
BETHESDA — During the regular season, the Northwest Jaguars were the only team to beat the Churchill Bulldogs in football. The two met again Friday night in the first round of the Class 4A Playoffs at Walt Whitman High School, and the number three-seeded Jaguars took care of business yet again as they demolished the number two-seeded Bulldogs 56-20.
“We just came back and did the same things we did, but just even better,” said sophomore quarterback Jordan Morse. “We just perfected some things in practice, and just came out focused and ready to play.”
The first quarter contained plenty of scoring, mostly from Northwest. The first score came when Morse completed a swing pass to senior Andrew Howard, who took it in for the 27-yard score to give the Jaguars an early 7-0 lead.
On the first play of Churchill’s ensuing drive, junior receiver Gabe Moore fumbled the ball and Northwest recovered. This led to Morse connecting with senior tight end Deandre Jules for the three-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0.
Churchill attempted to keep the game close, however, as senior quarterback Michael Janis’ screen pass to Moore resulted in a 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown. However, the missed extra point kept the score at 14-6.
It didn’t get much better for the Bulldogs on the ensuing kickoff, because Howard returned it 72 yards to the house to extend the Jags’ lead to 21-6 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
Late in the quarter, Northwest found the end zone again on a 25-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Roderick James that extended the lead to 28-6.
Early in the second quarter, on a fourth-and-long play, Morse fired a deep pass to senior receiver AJ Woods for the 33-yard score.
“The team played very well,” said Morse. “We came out fast and just got the job done.”
Then, the Jags continued to dominate when they recovered the ball off a Churchill fumble on the ensuing kickoff. This turnover led to points as James took the handoff and reached the end zone from 16 yards out as Northwest led 42-6 at halftime.
The Jaguars continued to dominate as junior Aiahni Terry took the handoff up the middle for a touchdown to extend the rout to 49-6.
The Northwest defense forced another turnover by recovering a fumble at the end of the third quarter, which resulted in Morse’s fourth touchdown pass of the evening, as he connected with Howard again for a 32-yard score.
“We had a lot of fortunate bounces that went our way,” said Jaguars head coach Mike Neubeisel. “Churchill’s a very good team, but our kids came to play, and they were focused, and they had a great week of practice and it showed today, I think.”
Churchill scored two late touchdowns, including one as time expired. However, it was too little, too late.
Despite leading the Bulldogs to their first playoff game since 2012, head coach Willie Williams said he believes that his team could have accomplished much more.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Williams. “But I think we underachieved this year. I think our kids could have really beat this football team, but obviously we wasn’t ready for it.”
This also marked the last game for seniors such as Janis, Patrick Richardson, Nick Smyth, and Max Mantz. Janis will continue to play football at the University of Chicago next fall.
Meanwhile, Northwest will continue their playoff run when they head to Quince Orchard High School to face the number one-seeded Cougars next Friday, Nov. 16.