Before The West won last season, Central had won four consecutive state titles and five in a six-year span during which it advanced to the state final every season.The Rockets had won nine in a row and 10 of the previous 12 meetings before that loss.
Northwestern dominated the majority of a 21-7 victory on Oct. 20 to clinch the District 16-6A title.
On Friday, the Bulls looked like they had crushed Central’s spirit after taking a 24-0 lead when quarterback Tutu Atwell scored from 26 yards out with 10:22 left in the fourth. This came moments after Northwestern executed a successful onside kick, opting to go for the chance to put the game out of reach.
Central (9-3), which had won its past three postseason games against Northwestern, answered quickly when Lexington Joseph broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown run that was followed by a Morten two-point conversion run.
The Rockets’ defense forced a punt and their offense drove quickly and scored again when Morten found Zeryus Coleman for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Morten ran in the two-pointer again and suddenly it was a one-score game. Nigel Bethel intercepted a deep pass by Morten and was downed at his own 2-yard line. After a three-and-out, Northwestern took an intentional safety in order to take a free kick and back up Central with 31 seconds left.
But James Cook returned the kick to Northwestern’s 35 with 25 seconds to go.
The Rockets moved the ball inside the 10, but the Bulls’ secondary made the game-saving play to hang on. Kancey had two sacks in the Bulls’ 24-18 playoff win over Central on Friday at Traz Powel. Kancey had two sacks and several tackles for loss as Northwestern’s defense once again limited Central’s running game throughout the first three quarters and to only 86 yards overall.
Northwestern running back Bo Kendrick led the Bulls on the ground with 62 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.The Bulls also surprised Central with a trick play in which Divaad Wilson caught a lateral pass from Atwell and then hit Derrick Davis downfield for a 55-yard touchdown pass to give Northwestern a 14-0 lead.