TUNNEL HILL — For the past three games, Northwest Whitfield coach Josh Robinson knew his team was facing tough competition as all three losses came to state-ranked teams in Dalton, Model and Ridgeland.
Despite the quality opponents, the losses weren't easy to take.
Friday night against LaFayette on Homecoming night, Robinson and the Bruins wanted a victory no matter what.
"I didn't care if it was 2-0 or 99-98, we just needed to win," Robinson said. "I think everyone on the team understood we had played three really good teams, but that didn't take away any of the sting of losing those games."
The Bruins didn't have to sweat a close game or worry about having that losing feeling again against the Ramblers. Quarterback Luke Shiflett threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Bruins (3-3) rolled to a 30-7 victory to even their Region 6-4A record at 1-1.
The Bruins built a 30-0 lead in the first half and the second half was played with a running clock.
Northwest wasted little time finding their offensive footing against LaFayette (2-4, 0-2). On the first possession of the night, Shiflett struck deep to Jay Jones on a 68-yard scoring strike on his first pass attempt. On the next series, a swing pass to running back Dominique Sistrunk atoned for an earlier block-in-the-back penalty. The sophomore made up for the penalty with a 56-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
However, that would be the end of the night for Sistrunk, who didn't return to the game after complaining of migraines to the training staff. The loss of Sistrunk adds to a running back corps which is without starter Sebastian Orozco after he suffered a collarbone injury earlier in the week in practice.
Sistrunk's loss did little to slow down the offense in the first half.
After the Bruins' defense stopped LaFayette's one lone drive of the first half at the Northwest 10, the offense drove the ball 90 yards in 12 plays with a combination of short and mid-range passes and runs by sophomore Malik Dumas. Shiflett converted on a fourth-and-4 with a 17-yard completion to Jones, and he capped it off with a 22-yard pass to Will Blanchard for a 23-0 lead after a pair of two-point conversions.
Northwest got the ball back with 4:48 left in the second quarter and overcame an offensive pass interference call to put their final points on the board. Shiflett had a 6-yard run to convert a fourth down and connected with three different receivers before Dumas capped off the effort with a 7-yard scoring run.
Shiflett finished with 338 yards of total offense, adding 50 on the ground and completing 17-of-22 passes for 288 yards.
LaFayette ran the ball 44 times for 202 yards. Dakota Cathey paced the Ramblers with 80 yards on 10 carries, while KaDarrin Ramsey had 55 yards on 10 rushes.
Ramsey had five tackles and broke up two passes. Jonah Hobbs led the way with 6.5 tackles and Andrew Pendergrass finished with five tackles.
The Bruins travel to Heritage-Catoosa (5-1, 2-0) on Friday, while LaFayette will return home to face Ridgeland (4-0, 1-0) in a region and country rivalry game.