Rangers wrangle Miners as defense steps up

Alva / Athletics / Football
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Rangers wrangle Miners as defense steps up

ALVA, Okla. (10-1-11) – The Northwestern Oklahoma State University defense stepped up late on Saturday afternoon, improving their homecoming winning streak with a big victory over NCAA Div. II Independent Missouri S&T, 22-17.

The Miners of S&T forced the Rangers to punt late in the fourth quarter, giving the visitors just enough time to drive the field with all three timeouts to potentially leave Oklahoma with a victory.

After a couple of first downs by the Miners on a drive that started at their own four yard line thanks to Ranger punter P.J. Stimson sticking a punt, the Miners picked up a couple of first downs to get the ball to the Northwestern 33-yard line.

That is when the Ranger secondary stepped up huge.

The Miner quarterback was unsuccessful on is first two attempts from the 33. With the Miners looking at third and ten, Ranger defender Reggie Cole dove in front of Kevin Dillon to break up a potential first down.

With one more shot on fourth and time running out, S&T signal caller heaved a pass towards the end zone. With a jump ball situation coming, Marvin Desir leaded up, nearly picking off the pass for the Rangers, saving the victory in front of a large crowd at Ranger Field.

Northwestern has now won 18 consecutive homecoming games, dating back to the 1993 season.

The Rangers started the final stanza looking up at the Miners who 17-16 with 12:47 to go. On the ensuing kickoff after the field goal to take the lead for S&T, Augie McCulley broke loose for a return into the Miners’ territory.

After a couple big running plays by Taylor Hooper and Jermil Martin, Northwestern quarterback Kyle Jech kept the ball, stretching over the goal line for the go ahead score.

Jech had his hand in all three Northwestern touchdowns on the afternoon, finding Keith Barefield Jr. from five yards out in the first quarter and Andrew King on an 18-yard connection in the third.

The junior from Kingfisher, Okla., finished the afternoon with 15 completions for 168 yards through the air and 19 on the ground. His favorite target remained the same as previous contests this season, hooking up with Kent McDonald seven times for 129 yards.

Despite being out gained offensively by the Miners, 373-256, the Ranger defense stepped up at timely points in the contest.

The defense was led by Michael Harmon who recorded ten tackles, six of which were solo, and Desir who roamed the secondary, breaking up two Miner passes.

Northwestern’s victory moves head coach Keith Barefield one step closer to his 100th victory at the NAIA level at 98, tenth all-time.

The Rangers will play the second of four home games in the month of October next Saturday as they are set to host rival Southern Nazarene at 2 p.m. at Ranger Field.