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Unbeaten Rangers rally past Co-Lin 54-27

WESSON — Northwest Community College quarterback Lewis Kuffuorlived up to his pregame billing but teammate Eldra Buckley producedthe most impressive performance Thursday night in Stone Stadium.Buckley rushed the football 24 times for 239 yards and fourtouchdowns, leading the Rangers to a 54-27 comeback victory overthe Co-Lin Wolves.

The Rangers (4-0), ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA national poll, fellbehind Co-Lin 21-6 in the second quarter but came back strong. Theybroke a 27-27 third-quarter deadlock with 4 fourth-quartertouchdowns.

“It was a crazy football game,” said Kuffuor who rushed for 88yards. He completed 8 of 20 passes for 80 yards and was interceptedtwice. “They (Co-Lin’s defense) were keying on me so Eldra steppedup. I bet he got over 200 yards (rushing) tonight.”

Buckley (6-0, 180), a high-speed sophomore from Charleston, ranaround and through Co-Lin’s defense. He scored touchdowns on runsof 4,8, 62 and 49 yards.

The Wolves (1-3) appeared ready to regain the lead afterachieving a 27-27 deadlock on a leaping, 40-yard TD reception byDaryl Johnson from quarterback Beau Billeck.

Co-Lin’s Lee Evans had recovered a fumbled punt return at theNorthwest 17-yard line. Billeck scrambled for 8 yards on first downbut disaster struck on the second play of the fourth quarter.

Northwest defensive end DeVon Hicks stepped in front of aBilleck pass and returned it 92 yards to paydirt, diving into theend zone. The dive by Hicks drew a 15-yard penalty but the Rangershad the momentum and the lead at 33-27 with 14 minutes left in thegame.

“The turning point of the game was that interception,” saidCo-Lin head coach Glenn Davis. “Those kind of plays kill you. Thenwe dropped the pooch kick (kickoff).”

After Buckley’s 49-yard scoring blast for a 41-27 lead, theRangers kicked off and Dowell launched a bloop or sky kickoff whichwas fumbled at Co-Lin’s 36. Six plays later, the Rangers got a3-yard TD run from Greg Horton for a 47-27 bulge.

“Our kids gave a good effort but we can’t get behind a good teamlike Northwest,” said Davis. “They have a bunch of Division Oneplayers. For 30 minutes we won and we were tied after threequarters.”

The Wolfpack sprang to an early lead as cornerback MichaelBlackwell picked off a Kuffuor pass at his 42-yard line andreturned it to Northwest’s 7. Three plays later, Billeck scored ona sneak. Chris Blackwell’s PAT put the hosts up 7-0 with 11:37 leftin the first quarter.

Co-Lin took a 14-0 lead with 5:28 left in the first quarter. A35-yard scramble by Billeck to the 1-yard line set up a shortscoring plunge by Julius Roberson.

After Buckley’s first TD run, the Wolves replied with a 74-yardscoring drive. Billeck completed passes of 15 yards to VictorWilliams and 43 yards to Johnson before throwing a TD strike of 11yards to tight end Ivan Hilliard, making it 21-6.

Touchdown runs by Buckley and Kuffuor reduced Northwest’sdeficit to 21-19 at halftime.

“It wasn’t pretty the first half,” said Northwest coach BobbyFranklin. “We had to come back and fight like hell.

“Co-Lin has a good football team and they should win some gamesdown the road,” Franklin continued. “Our quarterback is a greatathlete. He has speed, quickness and a great arm.”

A 62-yard touchdown run by Buckley and a 2-point conversion runby Kuffuor gave the Rangers a 27-21 lead with 10 minutes left inthe third quarter.

When Co-Lin linebacker Lewis Thompson recovered a Buckley fumbleat the Northwest 40-yard line, it set up Billeck’s TD pass toJohnson. Billeck completed 12 of 20 passes for 141 yards. Johnsoncaught 4 passes for 98 yards.

Roberson led Co-Lin’s rushing effort with 11 carries for 46yards. Charles McCrae rushed 5 times for 22 yards.