Right now, the Kilgore College Rangers are soaring, ranked second in the nation, and covering their opponents like a blue tidal wave.
But back in 2019, in the Southwest Junior College Football Conferenec playoffs, KC was the top seed, and was upset at home, no less, by New Mexico Military Institute.
That playoff exit might be motivation for a little payback today, as coach Willie Gooden and the Rangers (3-0) visit New Mexico Military, a 7 p.m. Central time kickoff. The game will be live streamed on Facebook – at press time, exact details were to be ironed out. See the Kilgore College Sports Network Facebook page for a link, or type this directly: https://boxcast.tv/view/nmmi-bronco-football-vs-kilgore-468236
Maybe the Rangers will be motivated enough by protecting themselves and that number two ranking. KC is no stranger to being ranked, and even being ranked second. The Rangers were ranked that high for much of the 2020 season (played in spring 2021), and finished the season with a number six mark.
But KC has came out of the gate this fall very strong, and the NJCAA voters in the poll have recognized it. Only Snow (Utah) College is ranked in front of KC, and something will give there: the way the schedule would have it, Snow visits KC in a non-conference game Oct. 23, a possible one-versus-two matchup.
For now, though, the focus for the Rangers has to be NMMI, ranked number 12 themselves. We sort of have one-versus-two this week: the Rangers are 3-0 overall, 2-0 in conference, while NMMI is 3-0 overall, as well, but just 1-0 in conference, a 39-31 win over Navarro at Corsicana. That’s a good win, to be sure.
NMMI’s other wins came over the Papago Pumas (40-9 in the season opener) and Maricopa (66-0), neither anywhere near the competition of teams like KC or Navarro.
In that road win, NMMI picked up 25 first downs, went 2-for-2 on fourth-down attempts and 9-of-17 on third downs; and had 508 yards of total offense,
NMMI runs the ball well. Terrance Moore had 75 yards on 13 carries, and scored three touchdowns, but Anthony Grant rushed for 132 yards on 18 carries. Also, quarterback Diego Pavia had 90 yards rushing and Motahi Joseph had 62, a well-balanced rushing attack.
Pavia completed 11-of-16 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns: one to Javin Smith, who had a five-catch, 104-yard day, and the other to Malik Phillips, a 16-yarder.
Here’s the bad news for NMMI: Navarro had 641 yards of total offense, 521 in the air. Navarro quarterback Qua Gray completed 29-of-44 passes for 521 yards, a long of 96, with two touchdown passes (to Elijah Hines and Isaiah Robinson).
The NMMI defense didn’t get a sack or an interception, and didn’t get a single quarterback hurry that was recorded as a part of the statistics.
Last week, while NMMI was beating Navarro in Corsicana, KC was shutting out Northeastern Oklahoma A&M here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
KC’s offensive numbers had been off the charts in the first two games, wins over Tyler Junior College and Blinn. But against NEO, they were a little sluggish, with just 175 total yards.
The defense had to step it up, and did. KC held NEO to just 105 total yards.
The Rangers got two touchdowns from kicker Eduardo Jaimes (from Sabine), of 30 and 47 yards, respectively. Malcolm Mays hit Cassius Allen for a 23-yard touchdown, a 5-yard touchdown run by Garrison Johnson, a 6-yard touchdown pass from Mays to Marques Pearson, and a 2-yard run by Kendric Rhymes, following a blocked punt.
On the season, KC has outscored its opponents 132-45. Even with a bit of an off-day against NEO, the Rangers are still averaging 522 yards, including 366 passing yards, per game, and allowing just 327 per game.
In weeks to come, KC hosts Navarro (next Saturday, a 7 p.m. kickoff), visits Cisco College in the rematch of the Rangers’ only loss in the spring, an open date Oct. 16 and then what could be a huge non-conference game against Snow Oct. 23.