Halloween might be just around the corner, but the Northwest High School football team doesn’t want to get into the spirit too early.
The eighth-ranked Jaguars scared themselves a bit on Friday with a dismal first half at Winston Churchill, but recovered from an early deficit to upset the No. 6 Bulldogs 27-24 in Potomac.
It was Northwest’s (4-2) first win against the Bulldogs (4-2) since 2007.
“We have a history of slow starts, but we need to not start so slow and scare ourselves,” Jaguars senior quarterback Matty Callahan said. “We didn’t need to really make too many adjustments [for the second half]. It was just a matter of execution.”
Churchill’s triple option attack worked like a charm early Friday.
The Bulldogs established a 14-0 lead halfway through the first quarter. They used big plays to seize control, including senior quarterback Jonathan Lee’s 67-yard rush on the opening play of the game. It set up a quick Churchill touchdown. Moments later, Lee threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Dominique Williams.
The Bulldogs didn’t even let a first quarter fumble that led to Northwest’s first score — a lateral from Callahan to Joshua Gills, who launched a 42-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Markush — slow them down.
The halftime break appeared to wake Northwest up from a lethargic opening 24 minutes, but it seemed to have the opposite effect on Churchill.
“They got up on us early, but we didn’t get down on ourselves [at halftime]. We came out in the second half and we were just like, ‘I’m not going to let you down, bro,’” Gills said. “We picked each other up. It’s always sweeter to come back and win a game like that.”
Northwest began chipping away at Churchill’s lead midway through the third quarter.
Callahan’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Markush, who was tripped, but got up and ran an additional 10 yards to catch the ball, made it 24-13.
While the triple option worked for Churchill early, several errors — two fumbles in the fourth quarter alone — prevented the Bulldogs from converting on several long drives.
“In the second half we could not sustain our drives,” Churchill coach Joe Allen said. “We had a lot of third and shorts that we didn’t convert. We need to focus on being a more disciplined team and until we can do that, we’re always going to have our hands full.”
Two fourth quarter touchdowns by Gills sealed Northwest’s first signature win of the season.
“I think this is the climax of our season. We’re finally starting to peak,” Callahan said. “[Friday’s] win gives us a lot of confidence.”
Northwest 27, Churchill 24
Northwest (4-2) 7 0 6 14 — 27
Churchill (4-2) 21 3 0 0 — 24
WC — Jonathan Lee 5 run (Noah Jankel kick)
WC — Dominique Williams 20 pass from Jonathan Lee (Noah Jankel kick)
NW — Ryan Markush 42 pass from Joshua Gills (Tommy Beard kick)
WC — Jonathan Lee one run (Noah Jankel kick).
WC — Noah Jankel 34 field goal
NW — Ryan Markush 20 pass from Matty Callahan (kick failed)
NW — Joshua Gills 11 run (pass failed)
NW — Gills 10 pass from Matty Callahan (Tyler Ambush pass)
Northwest — Joshua Gills 13-46.
Churchill — Jonathan Lee 13-87; Malik Harris 14-72.
Northwest — Matty Callahan 26-41-323-2; Joshua Gills 1-1-42-0.
Churchill — Jonathan Lee 8-21-158-2.
Northwest — Ryan Markush 12-165; Joshua Gills 5-63.
Churchill — Dominique Williams 3-68; Juwan Hamelin 1-56; Joe Nolan 2-34