Halfway through season and championship is anyone’s guess

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Seven polls have been released so far this season, and seven different teams have held one of the top two spots on the road to Pittsburg for the NJCAA Football National Championship. And that’s with the latest victim, Hutchinson (No. 4, 5-1), holding onto the No. 1 spot for five weeks.

Mississippi Gulf Coast (No. 1, 6-0) climbed one spot after winning 55-24 over Southwest Mississippi (0-6). But, one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s few games against an unranked opponent started tough – with only a 14-10 lead until late in the second quarter. Over the next eight minutes of play, they exploded with four touchdowns. Quarterback Chance Lovertich ended the game with 345 yards and 5 touchdowns, while defensive lineman Brian Merritt forced 2.5 Sacks and 4.5 Tackles for Loss.

This week Mississippi Gulf Coast is at East Central Mississippi (No. 19, 4-2). The game many across the country had their eyes on East Mississippi hosting Northwest Mississippi. Defending champion East Mississippi had lost early in the season, but had steadily climbed back up to the No. 3 spot. Northwest Mississippi had been ranked No. 3 a week earlier, but had just been upset in a 47-42 shootout. That loss dropped Northwest Mississippi to No. 7, and early in the second quarter, they were down to East Mississippi 13-7. But a 35 point second quarter gave Northwest Mississippi (No. 2, 5-1) the 56-36 win over East Mississippi (No. 8, 4-2) as the two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards on offense. Northwest Mississippi hosts Coahoma (1-5), while East Mississippi hosts Holmes (2-4).

Lackawanna (No. 3, 5-0) squeaked by ASA Brooklyn (4-2, unranked but receiving votes), with a 17-10 come from behind win in a defensive battle. Lackawanna has a big matchup this week at Monroe College (No. 7, 5-0), who is coming off a 53-6 win over Valley Forge Military College (3-2). Monroe has outscored opponents 290-40 so far this season.

Hutchinson (No. 4, 5-1) reached the No. 1 spot for the first time in their program’s history, and then held onto it for five weeks total. Highland (No. 14, 4-2) opened the game with a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Brian George, and while Hutchinson would eventually get a 14-13 lead, Highland led the rest of the way in their 29-27 win. This week, Hutchinson hosts Coffeyville (2-5), while Highland hosts Garden City (No. 10, 5-2). Garden City has had a “two steps forward, one step backward” type of season and are ending their regular season with a tough stretch. They opened the season with a loss, won back-to-back, lost again, and now has a three game winning streak, but they still face Hutchinson and Butler.

Kilgore (No. 5, 6-1) is coming off a bye week and has only two regular season games remaining. This week they face Blinn (No. 20, 4-2), who is coming off a 42-12 loss at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (3-3, unranked but receiving votes).

Other ranked teams facing other ranked opponents this week: Hinds (No. 6, 5-1) hosts Copiah-Lincoln (3-3, unranked but receiving votes). Hinds is coming off a 54-26 win over Coahoma (1-5); and, Copiah-Lincoln is coming off their third straight loss, but all have been to top ranked opponents – to Northwest Mississippi, then Mississippi Gulf Coast, and most recently a 23-18 loss to East Central (No. 19, 4-2). Snow (No. 13, 3-2) is at ASA Miami (No. 16, 4-1). Snow is coming off a 30-20 win over Iowa Central (3-4), while ASA Miami is coming off a win over Louisburg College. Independence (No. 17, 3-2) hosts Iowa Western (3-3, unranked but receiving votes). Independence is coming off their 49-20 win over Butler, while Iowa Western is coming off a 52-0 win over Ellsworth (1-5).

For the complete poll from October 7, 2019, visit NJCAA.org/sports/fball/polls.

The NJCAA Football Championship game will be held Thursday, December 5 at 5 p.m. CST at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kansas. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (620) 235-4796, or visiting NJCAAFootballChampionship.com and clicking “Tickets”.

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