TUNNEL HILL -- The Northwest Whitfield Bruins had a first half to forget.
Zero points. Two lost fumbles. The defense surrendered nine points to the winless Cass Colonels.
But the second half was full of positive plays to remember -- especially for Northwest running back Nathan Sistrunk. On homecoming night, Sistrunk ran for a career high 248 yards and three touchdowns as Northwest (3-2) rallied for 28 second-half points to beat Cass 28-14.
"We didn't come out here mentally ready," said Sistrunk, who was the team's workhorse with 26 carries. "We were thinking, 'Cass, we've been beating Cass. We're going to come out here and do it to them.' Cass came out way stronger than us. Second half, we knew what they were about so we came out here and brought it."
Northwest head coach Josh Robinson wasn't happy with the way his team played in the first half. He didn't think facing a winless opponent or the players being distracted by the homecoming festivities affected the team in the first half.
"It wasn't that we weren't ready to play," Robinson said. "We weren't executing offensively and defensively. I sensed that our kids were doing what they were supposed to, but we weren't executing."
Despite the offensive fireworks, one of the biggest plays of the game came on special teams. Northwest, trailing 16-14 midway through the fourth quarter, forced a Cass punt. The Colonels' punter is also a wide receiver/defensive back. He was slow to punt the ball and Northwest Bruin Luke Hensley broke through the Cass line and tackled punter Loren Drayton for a loss at the Colonels 27. Two plays later, Sistrunk ran 23 yards for his second touchdown of the game. Northwest led 22-14 with 4:53 remaining.
"We had come close to blocking two or three and that was something we work on," Robinson said. "Our kids made mistakes, again, executing or we would have blocked two or three. We finally executed."
Cass head coach Rick Casko pointed to a young team that up to Friday night had not been in many close games.
"A young team made some mistakes, that's all," Casko said. "I thought we outplayed them, out-physicaled them. They played better in the second half. I believe they have a couple of seniors over there. I knew their experience would be there. We had every opportunity to win this game. They're a good football team."
Northwest was down 9-0 at halftime behind a Cass field goal and touchdown. The Bruins finally got on the scoreboard with 9:24 left in the third quarter with a Sistrunk 6-yard touchdown run.
Northwest quarterback Colter Creswell was the team's second leading rusher with 41 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
NORTHWEST 28, CASS 16
CASS 3 6 7 0 16
NW 0 0 14 14 28
C - Guadalupe Rangel 26 kick (5:34)
C - Brandon Etheridge 9 pass to Kelin Wells (kick failed) 2:09
N - Nathan Sistrunk 6 run (Miguel Villa kick) 9:24
C - Etheridge 5 run (Rangel kick) 3:30
N - Colter Creswell 1 run (Villa kick) :59
N - Sistrunk 23 run (conversion good) 4:53
N - Sistrunk 19 run ( conversion failed) 1:01