Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:19 AM
Published on: Thursday, November 21, 2013
By Holden Wilen
GERMANTOWN – Earlier this season Northwest lost 26-6 in a blowout loss to Gaithersburg High School.
The Jaguars got their revenge, however, defeating the Trojans 36-7 in the first round of the Maryland 4A West region playoffs.
Northwest head coach Mike Neubeiser said the team’s improvement can be attributed to an improved offensive line and a defense which has found its identity. On Friday that defense came through with three turnovers which led to 20 points for the Jaguars.
“It helps a lot,” sophomore Jaguars quarterback Mark Pierce said of the turnovers. “All we need to do is get stops. We know our offense will score points every game so we just need to hold the opposite offense. Our defense did really well.”
Northwest led from the start after Pierce took the offense on a 9-play, 58-yard scoring drive which ended with a touchdown pass to running back E.J. Lee. Pierce finished the game with four touchdown passes and 300 passing yards.
Despite the early score, momentum appeared to be shifting to Gaithersburg after quarterback Nick DeCarlo scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game at 7-7. The defense then picked off Pierce to give the offense a chance to take the lead.
However, Northwest defensive back Rodney Snider came up with an interception to get the ball back.
Back on offense, and with primary playmaker Josh Gills getting bottled up by Gaithersburg’s defense, Pierce turned to another target—senior receiver Matt Watson.
Pierce found Watson on a crossing route which resulted in a 58-yard touchdown. On the next possession, after the defense won the ball back with another interception, Pierce found Watson on another crossing route for an 85-yard touchdown to give the team a 20-7 lead going into halftime. The speedster finished with 197 yards, four catches, and the two touchdowns.
“I just tried to put pressure on their defense because we started off kind of slow. I was just trying to put some pressure on and help my team out,” Watson said. “I got the job done, we got the job done and we came out of here with a victory.”
In the second half Northwest added a couple more touchdowns. The first one came as a result of a 78-yard fumble-return touchdown by Snider in the third quarter. The other score came on Gills’ lone catch of the game—a six-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Next, Northwest faces off in a rematch with Quince Orchard in the 4A West regional finals. Northwest handed Quince Orchard its only loss of the season, 35-21, on Nov. 1.
“I think the first time we played (Quince Orchard) we caught them off-guard at the right time,” Neubeiser said. “They are a really, really good team. We have to come in and play our A game in order to compete with them.”
After his big game, Watson said he thinks he and his teammates will be ready.
“We are going to practice hard this week so I think we will be fine,” he said. “I think we’ll bring some fire.”