KC WINS THE TITLE! | Rangers claim championship, accept bowl bid | Sports

Kilgore College, your Rangers are the 2022 Southwest Junior College Football Conference Champions.

Weeks ago there were strong doubts whether the Rangers would even make the conference playoffs, let alone have a chance of winning.

And now, unlikely as it was as the number four seed, Rangers hold the conference title and will go to a bowl game.

Coach Willie Gooden and his team had to climb a difficult ladder to do so, but ended that climb Saturday night in Roswell, NM at the Wool Bowl, upsetting the conference title holder and New Mexico Military Institute national champion (39-12). SWJCFC Championship.

KC is 8-3 on the season and has accepted a bowl bid.

The Rangers, ranked No. 7 in the final NJCAA Division I poll, will face No. 12 Entering Butler (Kansas) Community College.

The NMMI Broncos are also 8-3 on the season. NMMI came in with an outside chance to enter the four-team NJCAA National Championship tournament: The nation’s top four teams play each other to get a game into the national title game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock for the Broncos won a year ago.

But KC stopped the Broncos from coming back with a solid punch at the Broncos’ home turf on Saturday night.

It was the Rangers’ fourth straight win, and the last two – on Saturday against Trinity Valley and then New Mexico Military – ranked above the top two teams in the conference.

KC led 10:3 at half-time.

Fourteen seconds into the third quarter, McCoy returned a kickoff 90 yards to put the Rangers 17-3 ahead. New Mexico added a field goal to take the Broncos to 11, 17-6 with one field goal.

KC got an 18-yard touchdown run from Donerio Davenport to put Rangers up 23-6, though missed the extra point.

Vincent Paige recovered from a fumble for New Mexico, and the Rangers scored again on a 2-yard run from quarterback Judah Holdsclaw, and the KC defense got an interception return from Paige for a 49-yard pick-six.

The Broncos eluded the Rangers in the third game of the regular season after trailing behind KC for most of the game at Longview, but couldn’t escape the playoff rematch. NMMI scored his only touchdown of the game with 1:02 left, way too little, way too late, and KC ran out the rest of the clock.

KC had 179 passing yards and 381 total yards and held NMMI for 218 total yards.

Davenport finished with 19 carries for 121 yards, surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season.

McCoy had three catches for 31 yards to go for the score with his 90-yard kick return.

Holdsclaw went 9-of-20 for 179 yards and an interception.

The 2022 season got off to a great start for the Rangers as they recorded impressive victories over rival Tyler Junior College in a non-conference opener and then at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in a long road to open conference play.

But a loss in Longview to New Mexico Military after they led almost the entire game was a blow – NMMI was number one in the nation at the time – and then an away loss in Navarro the next week was tough.

But KC bounced back with a home win over Cisco over Hall of Fame weekend, took a week off, and then hit Southern-Shreveport in a nonconference game.

The offense was sluggish the following week in a trip to Trinity Valley, a 24-14 loss in Athens, and that appeared to be a season-changing loss. After that, Gooden changed some of the offensive figures. And looking back, the Rangers’ losses were all quality losses – every single loss on the schedule ended in losses to teams in the conference that were in the playoffs (Trinity Valley, New Mexico Military and Navarro).

KC finished the regular season with a rally to beat Tyler on the road at Christ Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium and then Blinn here for the homecoming, and got a little help from Navarro, who beat Tyler – and that allowed Rangers to get in enter the conference playoffs.

That was key and Rangers didn’t let the opportunity pass them by.

They got a return trip to Athens and a rematch with Trinity Valley and made the best of it, this time with a 38-10 win, a convincing win over the top seed in the playoffs, a Trinity Valley team that really came through the breach whizzed conference schedule.

Next up was the conference championship game in Roswell last weekend, and the New Mexico Military entered the game against the Rangers with the attitude of winning and being impressive enough to try and finish in the top four hopefully trying to repeat as NJCAA National Champion. But KC dashed those hopes with his blowout win, the No. 27 conference championship for Kilgore College Rangers and their first since the 2019 season.