HUGHESVILLE — A strong second half which opened with a long Garren Powell kick return and was capped off by a Nate Lynde touchdown lifted Northwest to a 54-36 win over Appleton City on Monday.
The Mustangs trailed 24-16 at the half before outscoring the Bulldogs 38-12 in the second half.
“What I saw was my team stick together after getting beat last week pretty handily by Southwest Livingston,” said Mustangs coach Garry Walker. “The guys stuck together this week. They came back strong.”
Powell scored three touchdowns in the half as he rushed for 123 yards in the game. Daniel Blaylock gained 81 yards.
“You’ve got power and speed, that’s what we live off of,” Walker said.
The Mustangs defense held Appleton City to 12 points in the second half as the Bulldogs put together a pair of long touchdown drives but often struggled to move the ball in their other second-half possessions.
“I really felt like on defense we were making the plays that we needed to make,” Powell said. “If they ran the ball up the middle, our D-line executed well. I’m really proud of that. As a corner, I’m watching my guy and they would take care of it every time. Nothing really broke out. I was proud of them.”
To open the third quarter, Northwest scored two touchdowns in 15 seconds to take the lead.
A long Powell return and a pass interference call set the Mustangs up on the doorstep again early in the quarter and Connor Tichenor hit Powell for a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the game again. Northwest recovered an onside kick and Blaylock took a direct snap up the middle for 28 yards and a touchdown to put Northwest up 32-24.
Appleton City scored late in the third quarter to cap off a 12-play, 60-yard drive, but the conversion failed and Northwest held a 32-30 lead.
Two plays later, Powell followed Blaylock’s lead block for a 55-yard touchdown to put the Mustangs ahead 40-30.
“I love having him block for me because I know he’ll get the job done,” Powell said. “I told him ‘if you just get one block, I promise you I’ll find a way to do it.’”
After stopping the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-inches, the Mustangs marched the other way. Powell capped off the five-play drive with a 21-yard touchdown run to make it 46-30.
Appleton City answered with a long touchdown drive, but Lynde scored from a yard out on Northwest’s next drive to make it 54-36.
“He hadn’t scored a touchdown in his whole 12 years of playing football so he got the opportunity to score and run one in,” Walker said.
An Ethan Stout interception on the first play from scrimmage set Northwest up at midfield and the Mustangs cashed in seven plays later. Facing fourth-and-15, Tichenor found Chandler Crosswhite for a 33-yard touchdown. Tichenor ran in the two-point conversion to put Northwest ahead 8-0.
Appleton City answered with 7:02 left in the first. Billy Prater threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Evan Mitts. The conversion tied the game 8-8. The Bulldogs took a 16-8 lead early in the second quarter on a one-yard Coleton Smith run but Northwest answered. A snap over Prater’s head was recovered by Tichenor and returned for a touchdown. Tichenor hit Powell on the conversion to make it 16-16.
Appleton City again took the lead with 56 seconds left in the half. Prater found Mitts for a 37-yard score to send the Bulldogs into halftime up 24-16.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles