The stage was all set for the Northwest Jaguars football team to suffer its second loss of the season. They were away from home, facing an impressive and undefeated Paint Branch team, bad weather conditions
and let’s not forget it was Paint Branch homecoming game as well.
Northwest took all of those adversities along with being down at halftime 21-7 to pullout a thrilling
31-28 overtime victory against Paint Branch. Both teams initially seemed to have a hard to getting things going due to the wind and rain which led to mishandling of the football until Northwest senior quarterback Josh Gills broke loose for a 21 yard touchdown in the first quarter. From there, Paint Branch senior quarterback Gaston Cooper went to work answering Gills by
throwing a 30 yard touchdown pass to junior Ryan Stango followed by two more scores to Cooper’s favorite target senior wide receiver Javonn Curry for 33 and 29 yards giving them a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
Northwest junior tight end Jordan Fairfax had a feeling it wasn’t over though saying” we knew we could beat them because we started off good in the beginning of the first quarter and we felt
disrespected because they scheduled us on there homecoming. We couldn’t wake up against Gaithersburg but we woke up against Paint Branch.” A fired and fed up Jaguar team was sparked by a 63-yard dash by Gills to bring them within 21-14 only to see Cooper and Curry hook up again for 27 yards and a 28-14 lead. Northwest answered right back with a 25-yard run by junior running back E.J. Lee followed by what can be seen as the turning point of the game was when Northwest linebacker Trint Coulter took a tipped pass from Cooper and returned it 29 yards to
tie the game and to silence the once joyful homecoming crowd. “Coming up to that play I had a strong feeling it was a pass. I read my keys and saw the receiver step back for the screen and I reacted. By the grace of God the ball bounced off his chest and went into the air. I went under and scooped it and took off. I felt like I was running forever.” Coulter said
After the score being tied at 28 and seeing a scoreless 4th quarter, these two titans headed into overtime and in came Northwest hero and kicker Diego Melendez. Up against the elements and a rowdy crowd, Melendez calmly kicked his team to a cheerful victory nailing a 32-yard field goal to send his teammates into frenzy and a Paint Branch team still looking for answers. Asked his thoughts about the game, Northwest head coach Mike Neubeiser said” It was a strange game.
There were a lot of fumbled snaps because of the weather and there were a lot of penalties
because both teams were playing so physical. Paint Branch is a very well coached and athletic football team. They run a very fast pace offense which makes it difficult to make adjustments. Defensively they are very fast and disciplined so beating them was no small task.”
A happy but humbled Northwest coach also pointed out” I was really proud of our kids for not
giving up when they were down and fighting to earn the victory. They showed a lot of heart. We are a young team so this is a big step forward in the maturation process as a team and
a program.” Paint Branch looks to recover from there first loss of the season next Friday as they take on Blair at home while Northwest heads back home to take on high-powered Wotton squad..
Final Score Northwest HS 31 Paint Branch HS 28
Story by Dominique Butler
Photos by Jeffrey Vogt
All photos from the game can be viewed and purchased at
The Paint Branch HS Varsity Cheerleading and Poms performed at halftime and there photos can be viewed and purchased at