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Les Willsey

Staff Writer,

Northwest Christian staves off Morenci for D-V FB title

Nov 23, 2012

It was like two rockem-sockem robots doing battle, but when time expired Friday afternoon Northwest Christian had returned to the top of the heap in Division V.

Top-seed NWC used two first-half touchdown passes from quarterback Kyle Shipp and a relentless defensive effort to defeat proud No. 2 Morenci, 21-7, at Northern Arizona University's Walkup Skydome.

"We told our o-line and d-line, we win if you play well," NWC coach Dave Inness said. "They did a great job keeping a team averaging 56 points (43) to seven."

NWC limited Morenci to 167 total yards and just 94 rushing. The Crusaders also forced three turnovers and won time of possession by 12 minutes. Morenci's longest run from scrimmage Friday was 8 yards.

It's the second title in three years for Northwest Christian (13-1) while Morenci (13-1) fell short of its first title since the school won its only crown in 1976.

Northwest Christian used special teams and defense to set up their first-half scores in a game that was contested mostly between the 20s. Kaleb Worrell's 32-yard punt return to Morenci's 30 set up the first touchdown in the opening stanza. A 35-yard TD pass from Shipp to Sammy Serwa made it 7-0 with 7:31 left in the quarter.

Morenci, which controlled the ball and clock last week in the semifinals to edge Tempe Prep, waited until its fourth possession of the game to get some production and a score. The Wildcats marched 50 yards in 10 plays with Frank Ogas Jr.'s 2-yard run with 9:35 left in the second period to tie things at 7.

The only turnover of the half -- a Morenci fumble at its 20 -- was recovered by NWC's Josh James. Three plays later Shipp hooked up with reliable Trevor Osborne for a 6-yard, tie-breaking TD. NWC took the 14-7 lead to intermission.

NWC dominated time of possession -- 17 1/2 minutes to 6 1/2 -- in the first half  with each team having seven possessions. NWC outgained Morenci, 156-82 in the first half.

NWC's defense came to the rescue in the third period. After an interception set Morenci up in NWC territory at the 44, Worrell came through with another big play. He recovered an errant pitch on the option by Morenci quarterback Emilio Duran at the NWC 22. Morenci was at the NWC 12 threatening for the tying score with seven minutes left when that occurred.

"For a baseball player, he's a darn good football player," Inness said of Worrell.

Worrell was in the fray agiain on Morenci's next possession as the Wildcats gradually marched and penetrated inside the NWC 30. On fourth down, Worrell broke up a pass at the NWC 15 to turn Morenci away again.

"It felt great to make a couple plays," Worrell said. "We studied what they were going to do all week and were ready."

After Worrell broke up the fourth-down pass, NWC proceeded to drive 69 yards in 12 plays for the game-clinching TD with 9:22 to play. James Mosbrucker's 1-yard run capped the march. It was highlighted by double-digit, yardage receptions by Osborne (4 catches for 40 yards) and Mosbrucker and a 20-yard run by Hunter McShanag (19 carries for 129 yards). All of the aforementioned are seniors on a team that was hungry to get the title back it lost from 2010.

An interception by Mosbrucker with 4:37 left snuffed out Morenci's final threat at the NWC 15.

"This team, we changed a lot of what we did from last year on offense," Inness said. "Almost everything was new. The whole team played with great heart."

Morenci coach Frank Ogas Sr. was proud of his team even with the loss. His players held their helmets up in salute to the Morenci community that steadfastly supported the team in its title run minutes after the contest ended.

"We made some critical mistakes," Morenci coach Frank Ogas Sr. said. "In this situation you have to play close to perfect football. That's nothing to take away from NWC. They played well. Had a lot to do with why we had a couple drives we couldn't finish."

"We have no regrets. We left it all on the field. I'm so proud of Morenci."