Northwest 21,

Quince Orchard 14

Quarterback Ike Whitaker and wide receiver Salim Koroma are accustomed to scoring points and leading second-ranked Northwest to victory. It was the way the talented seniors put touchdowns on the board last night that was especially noteworthy.

Whitaker rushed a career-high 21 times and Koroma threw a 28-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter as the visiting Jaguars held off Quince Orchard, 21-14, in a Montgomery County nonleague game before an overflow crowd of 3,000 in Gaithersburg.

With the victory, Northwest improved to 8-0 for the first time in school history and clinched a playoff berth for the third consecutive season.

"That's the goal when you talk at the beginning of the year, you want to get to postseason play and give yourself a chance at the second season," said Northwest Coach Randy Trivers, whose team entered averaging 43.7 points, second in the Washington area. "But the goal is a little larger [this season] for us. We've been there. We want to get there and keep on winning until there aren't any more games to play."

If the Jaguars are successful, it probably will be because of Whitaker, who is being recruited by Maryland and Virginia Tech, among others.

Whitaker was his usual self last night, completing 17 of 23 passes for 247 yards, showing patience in the pocket and using ball fakes to hold defenders in place and allow plays to develop.

But it was a new part of the game plan to have Whitaker rush so often.

He took a keeper around the left end for a four-yard touchdown late in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead and later added some nifty scrambles to keep drives going, though he admitted he was "beat up a little bit." Whitaker finished with 70 yards, but would have had more if not for a few sacks, some negative yardage on plays where the Jaguars were called for penalties and three kneel-down plays at game's end.

"In a game of this magnitude, where we feel we need to show our repertoire, if you will, we're going to use Ike that way because he is such a good athlete," Trivers said. "In games we don't need to, we don't want to risk putting his body on the line."

Quince Orchard (6-2) drew even on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Brian Barrett to Scot Riddell and was within 13-7 in the third quarter until Koroma's touchdown pass. It was his first since throwing one to Whitaker against Quince Orchard last season.

Whitaker rushed five times and completed a pair of passes on the drive, including a fourth-down pass to Koroma to keep the drive going. On first down from the 28-yard line, the speedy and elusive Koroma ran a sweep to the right, pulled up and lofted the ball to Andrew Thomas, who caught the ball between two defenders.

Barrett threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brendan Willard to make it 21-14, but the Cougars were unable to get closer and likely need to win their two remaining games, against Wheaton and Gaithersburg, to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1993.