With Northwest’s offensive starters cheering on their backups in the closing minutes of Friday’s 54-20 victory at Richard Montgomery, word began spreading on the Jaguars’ sideline. Thanks to Churchill’s loss at Sherwood, Northwest not only had clinched its first playoff berth in four seasons, but would host its postseason opener next week as the Maryland 4A West region’s No. 2 seed.
As teams jockeyed for playoff positioning on the final night of the regular season, the Jaguars were among the area’s biggest winners. Senior Tyler Ambush had six touchdowns in a resounding victory over the Rockets that ensured Northwest (7-3) begins the postseason at home with plenty of momentum.
“We’re so happy about this,” said senior quarterback Matty Callahan, who threw for 185 yards and four touchdowns. “We haven’t had a home playoff game since 2006, so it’s something we’re all going to remember. Hopefully, we can make some magic.”
Richard Montgomery (6-4) needed a victory to make its first playoff appearance since 2005, and the Rockets surged to a 20-13 lead on senior Steven Burchett’s 84-yard touchdown pass to senior Jose Ortiz in the second quarter.
Northwest took over from there with six unanswered touchdowns. Callahan tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the first half and Ambush (75 rushing yards, 73 receiving yards) scored on three short runs and an 18-yard catch in the second half.
Now Northwest will get ready to face Churchill (7-3) in a sure-to-be festive atmosphere at “The Black Hole.” The Jaguars won the regular season matchup, 27-24, on Oct. 5 in Potomac.
“I’m hoping it’s nuts,” said Coach Mike Neubeiser, who was an assistant when Northwest won its only state championship in 2004. “I’m hoping it’s insane like back in the day. Hopefully, we can get it going just like we used to.”
Bethesda-Chevy Chase (7-3) grabbed the fourth seed in the region for the second straight season and will travel to No. 10 Quince Orchard next Friday. The Barons (7-3) would have made the field regardless with Richard Montgomery’s loss, but they rallied from a two-touchdown halftime deficit to beat Walter Johnson, 27-20.
After the Wildcats (3-7) took a 20-7 lead in the third quarter, Bethesda-Chevy Chase scored on three straight possessions, seizing the lead for good on Cory Applequist’s 14-yard touchdown run with about 10 minutes left.
“I told the guys all week that we had to win to get in,” B-CC Coach Richard Noland said. “In retrospect, that might have put a little too much added pressure on them. We came out flat, but I think we settled down in the second half, just doing what we like to do.”
In Germantown, Watkins Mill (7-3) missed a chance to win its way into the postseason when the Wolverines fell to ninth-ranked Seneca Valley, 20-14. Junior Kevin Joppy scored two touchdowns, including the winner on a four-yard run in the third quarter for the Eagles, who lost junior quarterback Calvin Reighard in the first half to a concussion.
The Wolverines still hold an outside chance of cracking the Maryland 3A West field for their first time since 1999 with some serious help from their power points. Seneca Valley (9-1) earned the No. 2 seed in the region and will host North Hagerstown next week.