Northwestern jumps out to 35-7 lead against Jets, but coach Seth Whiting says more focus is needed next Friday against Mechanicsburg.
SPRINGFIELD — Northwestern had little problem moving the ball against Northeastern in a nonconference game that was played on Saturday night after Friday’s thunderstorm. The Warriors rushed for 206 yards and ran for 126 in a 37-20 win.
But head coach Seth Whiting says a tougher challenge awaits the Warriors in week three. Mechanicsburg, an 8-2 team a year ago that played eventual Div. 6 state champion Minster to a one-point overtime loss in the playoffs, looms on Northwestern’s schedule. The Warriors (2-0) travel there next Friday to take on an Indians team that has dominated its first two opponents.
Whiting says his team will have a tougher task next week with Mechanicsburg’s passing game. The Indians (2-0) threw for 204 yards in a 48-6 win over Fairbanks on Saturday.
“We did not play very well tonight,” Whiting said. “My hat’s off to Northeastern’s kids; they played a very hard football game. They’ve got some very good players and a good coaching staff. They’re going to be very good in the future. But I’m not happy with our kids execution.
“There were things that were wide open tonight, but we’re dropping balls, fumbling, throwing interceptions. Our focus was lacking tonight, and I don’t know why.”
Northwestern jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead. Trevor Gebby threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Cole Brewer midway through the first. Logan Voorhees followed with a 79-yard interception return for a touchdown at the end of the quarter to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead.
Cole Brewer then intercepted another Northeastern pass, and Gebby capped off the ensuing drive with a one-yard run for a score. Whiting said the Warriors didn’t play with the same intensity after jumping out to the early lead.
“It seems like we have the focus the first quarter-and-a-half,” Whiting said. “Both last week and this week we’ve been up 21-0 pretty quick, and then the kids start to trail. We’ve got to get that killer instinct and understand that 21-0 isn’t good enough. We’ve got to go for the throw and punch a couple more on to get that continuous clock going to get the game over.”
Mechanicsburg has accumulated nearly 1,100 yards on offense in its first two games while its defense has allowed 268 yards. Senior quarterback Kaleb Romero had 401 total offensive yards against Fairbanks and two touchdowns.
“They’re going to be a challenge for us,” Whiting said. “They’re one of the best teams we’ll see all year. We’re going to have to play very sound football up front. They’re big and physical and very well-disciplined. Romero is a very good football player and keeps his feet very well.”
Whiting says the team has played well in several areas in its first two games. He said he’s particularly happy with the team’s offensive and defensive lines.
Northeastern had 199 yards on offense on Friday and went 3-for-14 on third-down conversion attempts and 1-for-6 on fourth-down. The Jets narrowed the score in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard pass from Mac Davis to Jacob Queen and a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jacob Smith.
Gebby threw two touchdowns in the third quarter on a 12-yard pass to Shane Salley and a 49-yard pass to Cole Brewer.
The Mechanicsburg game is the start of a tough three-game stretch for the Warriors. They host Shawnee on Sept. 18 and travel to Kenton Ridge on Sept. 25. Both the Braves and the Cougars beat Northwestern by eight touchdowns last year.
Whiting says the Warriors will need more focus on their upcoming opponents.
“We’ve got to be ready to go and ready to play a complete game, starting against Mechanicsburg,” Whiting said. “… The kids want to win, the staff wants to win, and the community wants to win. We’re happy with a 2-0 start, but we’ve got some things to fix if we want to keep winning.”
Northeastern travels to Stebbins (2-0) on Friday. It will be the third consecutive game against a CBC opponent for the Jets (0-2).