KC football

Kilgore College quarterback Clifton McDowell (above) looks for a receiver against Navarro. The Rangers have lost three straight, but can still make the Southwest Junior College Football Conference’s playoffs. KC is off this weekend, and then has three straight home games.

A run at the national championship is likely over for the Kilgore College Rangers after a third straight loss last weekend. But KC does still have opportunities.

Coach Willie Gooden’s Rangers (3-3 overall) are sitting just outside the top four in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference standings, with three games left to go, two of them in-conference. This weekend, they have an open date. And then a home non-conference game on Oct. 23 against number-eight Snow (Utah) looms large.

But still larger, now, are games against fourth-ranked Trinity Valley and suddenly-improved Tyler Junior College. The Rangers host both: TVCC on Oct. 30, and TJC on Nov. 6.

Both are in front of the Rangers in the conference standings; TVCC isn’t likely to fall out of the top four. KC has already beaten Tyler once (in the regular season opener, a non-conference game each year.

The Rangers have to be in the top four in the conference to extend their season past Nov. 6. In the SWJCFC format, that KC has exceled in in so many seasons, the top seed hosts the fourth seed on Saturday, Nov. 13. The number two seed hosts the number three on the same day, and then the winners of those games meet the following week (Nov. 20, this year) to decide the conference championship.

There is one thing: Trinity Valley is currently fourth in the nation, and this year, under a new format, the NJCAA is taking the top four seeds and matching them up to decide a national champion at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. KC can’t get into the national title picture with three losses, but they can play spoiler to TVCC and get into the conference playoff and win another conference championship.

KC is coming off a 38-14 loss at Cisco last Saturday, a very uncharacteristic third straight loss for the Rangers. For KC, the turnovers didn’t help. Quarterback Malcolm Mays was 10-of-20 for 136 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions. Clifton McDowell was 5-of-10 for 113 yards, had 61 rushing yards and a touchdown. Garrison Johnson ran for 63 yards on 10 carries, and Kennieth Lacy had 57 yards.

The Rangers were just 5-of-16 on third-down attempts, had five total turnovers.

Defensively for KC, Charles Hill, Joseph Cadette and Kylan Guidry each had a sack. Jordan Moore had an interception.

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