A football stat sheet that shows three possessions for a total of four minutes hardly seems favorable. For Northwest Whitfield, though, looks can be deceiving.
The Bruins scored three touchdowns on those possessions Friday night in an otherwise less-than-crisp 21-10 Region 7B-AAAA win at Ridgeland, putting them in the driver's seat for the No. 2 seed from the subregion in the week 10 crossover play-in games.
"We didn't execute very well," Northwest coach Josh Robinson said. "But we made some big plays. Ridgeland has a good defense and they took some things away from us."
Fortunately for the fast-paced Bruins (6-1, 2-1), quarterback Caleb Shiflett found the flaws in a Ridgeland defense designed to keep Northwest from making the big plays. Shiflett completed 12 of 20 passes for 239 yards and three scores, each of the quick-strike variety.
The longest Northwest touchdown drive was its first, when Shiflett capped a seven-play drive with a 34-yard scoring pass to Tevin McDaniel midway through the opening period. The Bruins appeared to take control of the game early in the second quarter when Shiflett, after completing a 36-yard pass to McDaniel, hit his other main target, Andy Whisenant, for a 28-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
"I think we may have let up a bit after that second score," Robinson said. "Give Ridgeland credit, though, for making it a game and making us earn it."
The Panthers (2-5, 1-2), held to one first down to that point, answered with an eight-play, 67-yard drive that featured the power running of Calvin Davenport, who stiff-armed his way for a 40-yard touchdown run at the 6:12 mark. Ridgeland got within 14-10 late in the third quarter when, thanks to a halfback pass from Caderius Word to Chase Crawford, Ivan Ojeda hit a 39-yard field goal.
Awakened, Northwest needed just two plays to answer, with Shiflett hitting Whisenant with a 40-yard touchdown pass. Ridgeland had two drives end in Northwest territory in the final quarter, but the Bruins held on for the win.
McDaniel had six receptions for 100 yards and Whisenant had four for 115 for the Bruins. Word led the Panthers with 117 yards on 28 carries, Davenport adding 95 on 17 carries.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.