By Jeff Rancudo
TUNNEL HILL —
After helping Northwest Whitfield High School’s football team demolish LaFayette Friday night at Bruins Stadium, senior Bruins like linebacker Tyler Clayton, center Bryson Williams, guard Ross Chadwick, receiver/ defensive back Andy Whisenant and defensive lineman Caleb Bowie soaked up possibly their last home game in high school.
There wasn’t any hurry to take the uniform off just yet. Such moments should be cherished.
Northwest quarterback Caleb Shiflett threw a 77-yard touchdown to Tevin McDaniel and a 45-yard one to Andy Whisenant and Jacob Webb ran for 120 yards and a 9-yard touchdown as the Bruins led 49-0 at halftime and won 77-0. Northwest improved to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in Sub-region 7B-4A play, while LaFayette dropped to 1-8, 1-4.
The Bruins entered the game already with a second-place finish in the sub-region and already knowing they would travel to Pickens next week to play Sub-region 7A’s third-place team to settle one of the region’s four state playoff berths.
“It’s special with this group,” said Chadwick. “With the offensive line, as the season’s progressed, we’ve been more of a brotherhood. We’ve been playing hard for each other all season.”
Northwest dominated every aspect of the game. McDaniel intercepted a Lance Estus pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, Clayton snatched another interception setting up another Bruins score and Clay Phillips returned a fumbled Rambler punt snap for a touchdown later as the Northwest defense snuffed out all LaFayette efforts.
Bruins coach Josh Robinson was pleased, saying, “We’ve been getting to where we kind of fall asleep with a lead. We didn’t do that tonight. Our defense played well and tackled well.”
Webb put Northwest up 7-0 on his 9-yard dash with 6:21 left in the opening quarter. During the drive, he also had a 51-yard run. McDaniel pushed the Bruin lead to 14-0 when he intercepted an Estus pass for a touchdown at the 5:06 mark of the first quarter. LaFayette showed a little life on the ensuing drive, reaching the Bruins’ 37-yard line, but defensive end Dexter Stamper sacked Estus for a 9-yard loss on third-and-16.
Following McDaniel’s 77-yard touchdown catch with 41.5 seconds left in the first quarter, Northwest scored again when Shiflett hit Whisenant for the 45-yard scoring pass for a 28-0 lead. Kyle Fleming pushed the Bruins up 35-0 with a 2-yard run with 9:02 left before halftime and Phillips’ fumble return for a score made it 42-0 in Northwest’s favor.
Dylan Joyce caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Shiflett for a 49-0 edge, Fleming made it 56-0 with a 4-yard run and Stamper returned a fumble 55 yards for a 63-0 lead late in the third quarter. Quarterback Seth Hutchinson cruised 22 yards for a 70-0 Bruins lead and Kevin Centeno’s 4-yard scoring dash finished the scoring.