Two weeks in a row against two top teams in the state may have just been too much. One week after beating Quince Orchard in one of the biggest games in program history, the Northwest Jaguars had another top team coming right at them in last Friday’s state championship at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Their opposition, the Wise Pumas, are undefeated against Prince George’s County public schools. The Pumas were looking to bring the state title back to Upper Marlboro after losing to Quince Orchard in 2018 and breaking their three-peat of state title wins.
Led by Jalil Farooq, a four-star wide receiver/defensive back, Wise ended up being too much for Northwest to handle. The Pumas came out on top, beating Northwest in the battle of the “cats” by a score of 35-14.
The first half of the game was even. The teams were tied at 14 going into half and Northwest had all of the momentum. After scoring with just over a minute remaining in the half, things were looking good for Northwest. After the score, Wise was able to drive the length of the field but had their last-second field goal blocked by Isiah “Smiley” Williams.
Coach DaLawn Parrish, the Wise head coach, credited the blocked kick to Northwest stacking one half of the line, something that his team just hadn’t seen before.
The Jags were physically outmatched by the Wise Pumas. One week after running for 253 yards against a star-studded Quince Orchard defensive line, the Jaguars were only able to gain 60 yards on the ground against Wise.
In addition, quarterback Jordan Morse has sacked seven times in the game with six of them coming in the second half. “I don’t think we were able to control the line of scrimmage offensively with the run game,” Northwest head coach Mike Neubeiser explained.
Despite the tied score at half-time, Wise seemed to have the momentum. Northwest had the ball for only six minutes in the first half, and touchdowns were both on big plays and not long drives. Wise, on the other hand, had the ball for almost 18 minutes and had five drives with at least five plays. From the sideline, it didn’t feel as if Northwest had the same intensity and drive that they had exhibited the week before against the Quince Orchard Cougars.
One of the most important plays of the game occurred with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter. Northwest, down by only one score, started with the ball at the Wise 35-yard line after a bad punt. The Jaguars had just stopped the Wise offense and had good field position to start the drive. But on the first play of the ensuing drive on a pass intended toward Kaden Prather, Wise got the benefit of a bizarre interception where the ball hit his legs and was caught by Farooq and returned all the way to the Northwest 38. Minutes later Wise scored a touchdown to go up by two scores and not lose the lead.
This was a completely different Northwest team than what we had seen the week before at the Cougar Dome. Instead of dominating the line, they were being dominated. Instead of running successfully in between the tackles, they had to rely on the passing game to get things going. On defense, Northwest couldn’t stop the explosive Wise offense as they had the QO offense.
While the season may be over, Northwest football has one of the brightest futures out of all teams in the county. The Jaguars return one of the top players in the state in fourstar pass-catcher Kaden Prather. They also return quarterback Jordan Morse, who threw for over 300 yards in the state championship game. On the defensive side, they return defensive back Darius Lorfils who led the team in interceptions, BJ Howard and MJ Johnson, and a plethora of other talented defensive players.
Right after the game ended, senior Dominique Perry didn’t have the same thoughts as everyone else. He had just played his final high school football game and instead of just breaking down in tears, he had words of wisdom for his team. “Remember that pain next year,” Perry said.