BY MARK BEASON
SENATOBIA - Northwest beat Hinds the old-fashioned way, with a solid running game and defense.
The Rangers (1-0) beat the Eagles 23-8 Thursday at Ranger Stadium to open the season.
Hinds had problems all night getting anything going offensively. In the first half, the Eagles gained just 58 yards, with minus-20 rushing. Things got a little better during the final two quarters, and they wound up with 213 total yards. Northwest, No. 3 in the country, had a solid night on offense, totaling 357 yards.
"Our defense came up with some big plays for us," Northwest coach Bobby Franklin said. "When we needed to come up with a stop, they got it done."
Offensively, the Rangers were led by sophomore tailback Hayden Sullivant, who ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. His touchdown ignited the offense, breaking free for a 64-yard run.
The Rangers were down 2-0 in the second quarter when Sullivant scored with 13 minutes, 30 seconds left in the half. It was the first touchdown of his career.
"He's just a tough little runner," Franklin said. "He runs the ball hard and does a good job of finding holes."
It was Hinds' defense making the first big play, getting a safety in the first quarter. Northwest was on the 3-yard line when center Aylon Putt snapped the ball over quarterback Dallas Monneyham's head, with Sullivant forced to fall on it in the end zone.
Northwest backup quarterback Raybum Morris made the most of his first play, throwing to wide receiver John Harris for a 70-yard touchdown pass. Kevin Dowell's extra point put the Rangers up 13-6 with 6:57 left in the half.
"(Morris) gives us something we haven't had in a while," Franklin said. "He can make plays, running and throwing the ball."
Hinds got back in it midway through the third quarter, with tailback Martise Quiller breaking free off the right side and running for a 25-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt failed, as Northwest held a 13-8 advantage.
"We just didn't play very well," Hinds coach J. Mike Smith said. "We didn't make enough plays on either side of ball."
Dowell made a 23-yard field goal in the fourth to put Northwest up 16-8, but it was the defense breaking the game open. Sophomore strong safety Andrew Jackson picked off a Terrance Matthews pass and ran 63 yards for a touchdown. Dowell's extra point with 8:15 left in the third put the Rangers up 23-8.
"That was a really big play for us," Franklin said. "He made a good break on the ball and came up with what was the difference in the game."