— In front of an estimated 6,000 fans, the Northwestern (Miami)
Bulls defeated Jackson (Miami)
, 28-19, in its annual "Soul Bowl" rivalry on Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium. Fans also witnessed the return of Bulls star quarterback Teddy Teddy Bridgewater
, who missed the previous three games after spraining an MCL during a loss to Columbus on Oct. 15.
Bridgewater, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player, completed 17 of 23 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulls (8-2) drew first blood after Jaquan Lenard recovered a fumble on the Jackson 1-yard line. On the ensuing play, Northwestern scored its first of four scores on the night after running back Jerrill Jenkins
plunged in from the 1. Jenkins led the bulls with 14 carries for 80 yards. Bridgewater then helped extend the lead to 14-0 after connecting with junior receiver Amari Cooper
for an 11-yard touchdown to begin the second quarter.
The Generals (6-4) answered the scores when highly touted athlete Robenson Therezie
, who has received offers from some of the nation's top-tier programs, including Alabama, Auburn and Florida State, scored on a 4-yard run later in the quarter. Jackson would then capitalize off a blocked punt, and a Northwestern fumble, with two consecutive field goals to cut the deficit, 14-13, with 2:47 left in the first half. Bridgewater, unfazed by the turnovers, went on to lead a 10-play, 80 yard drive which resulted in his second touchdown pass to Cooper.
The Bulls, who overcame three turnovers in the win, went into halftime with much momentum and continued their dominance in the third quarter when fullback Rod Perriman
scored on a 15-yard run to help them take a 28-13 lead and seal the win.
Much like its season, Northwestern was able to overcome some adversity en route to its win over Jackson. After a 19-7 win over Miami Edison on Oct. 30, Bulls' Head Coach Billy Rolle was fired by the school's principal three days later. He was re-hired soon after.
What he dealt with in recent history allows him to serve as an example for his team if they face adversity heading into the postseason. Bridgewater faced some obstacles of his own when his injury sidelined him for almost a month.
Bridgewater, who has completed 147 of 214 passes for 1,974 yards with 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions this season, is the team's leader on the field and was "proud" of how the team played during his absence.
"Sitting out was hard for me," he said. "But these guys had my back and told me that they would do what they had to do for us to win. Now that I'm feeling healthier, I feel like we can only get better and really compete for a state title."
Doing what they had to do to win was exactly right. In the three games that Bridgewater missed, Northwestern outscored its opponents 37-8. When asked how the knee felt on Friday night, Bridgewater replied, "It feels good now."
Coach Rolle, along with Bridgewater, has experienced some personal obstacles this season. Instead of allowing them to inflict negativity and doubt, they took on the challenge of maintaining their composure and staying positive, while setting an example for the rest of the football program. It's safe to say that, moving forward, Northwestern shouldn't have the tools to help get past most anything that stands in the way of winning another Class 6A state championship this season.