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November 19, 2010

Embattled Northwestern pulls off win

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There is a lot of confusion and controversy surrounding Miami (Fla.) Northwestern off the field.

On it, it's business as usual.

Northwestern, No. 66 in this week's RivalsHigh Top 100, show why it is one of the top programs in the nation when it rallied twice to defeat Miami (Fla.) Columbus, 27-24, in a Class 6A regional quarterfinal Thursday night.

The victory lifts Northwestern (9-2) into a game with the winner of Friday night's game between No. 25 Miami (Fla.) Central and Miami (Fla.) High.

Columbus, which defeated Northwestern earlier this fall, sees its season end at 10-1.

"The kids were fired up because they felt embarrassed after we lost the first time to Columbus," Northwestern coach Billy Rolle told the Miami Herald. "We needed to apologize to the 'Bull Nation.' "

Rolle and Bull Nation have been in the forefront of the news this month as Rolle was first fired then re-hired in a very public battle between athletics and academics.

Thursday night, football was on display.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami commit, led the team to the go-ahead score in the final minutes, converting a fourth-down play along the way. Jerrill Jenkins ran in from 1 yard out to put Northwestern up, 27-24.

Columbus had a chance to force overtime but missed a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

Trailing 24-21 with 4:15 left, Bridgewater directed the game-winning drive, converting a fourth down near midfield when he completed a 14-yard pass to Jerrill Jenkins for a first down.

Four plays later, another first down pass completion to Clinton Taylor and a 10-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct gave the Bulls the ball at the Columbus 10.

Two plays later, Jenkins ran in the go-ahead score from 1 yard.

Columbus (10-1) had one final chance, and advanced the ball to the Northwestern 30-yard line, setting up a game-tying field-goal attempt.

But Wes Keller's 47-yard field goal came up a few yards short, setting off a Bulls celebration.

"This shows we still have Bull pride," Northwestern receiver Eli Rogers told the Herald. "We've come together as a family instead of pointing fingers at each other."

How good the football team is remains to be seen. Miami Central is the only ranked team Northwestern could face until the state final. Such a run would vault the Bulls high in the Florida and RivalsHigh rankings.

  • RivalsHigh take: If Rogers is right, and this team has come together, it is still very dangerous. Of course it is still a very combustible situation to say the least. Columbus played very well, good enough to win, but couldn't make the plays in crunch time. The Bulls will be tested next week as well, squaring off with Miami Central.
  • For complete coverage, check out this game story in the Miami Herald.

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