CLOVER — For Northwestern, Friday night's game at Clover was all about getting back on track after a rare occurrence.
"This bunch hadn't lost, until last Thursday night, a region game in the last four years," Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson said. "Nobody playing in this program knew what it was like to lose a region game. So for us to lose a region game last week and put them through the type of practice we put them through last week and have the type of response we had on both sides of the ball was awesome."
Richardson's group dominated a shorthanded Clover squad 49-0 Friday night to move to 2-1 in region play and 6-3 overall.
The Blue Eagles dropped to 2-7 and 0-3.
"We took care of the ball, except for one play," Clover coach John Devine said. "They gave a good effort. Their attitude's been good. It's tough on them, it's tough on the coaching staff, but we're going to get through it together."
Having quarterback Mason Rudolph back certainly helped Northwestern. He missed last week's three-point loss to Lancaster, and on Friday the sophomore slinger was 22-of-33 for 346 yards and five touchdown passes.
"He's been out for the last week and a half, and getting him back in there getting reps was good for our offense," Richardson said. "We got back more in that rhythm that we needed to."
That rhythm didn't really happen on either of the first two drives -- both of which had dramatically different results. The Trojans went three-and-out on their first possession, then scored on the next drive, when Rudolph hit Gage Miller down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown to put Northwestern ahead 7-0.
On their next four drives, the Trojans rattled off a combined 36 plays, and only a fumbled quarterback-running back exchange kept them from scoring on all four possessions.
Running back LaThomas Long (six carries, 49 yards), who had been out since the South Pointe game, was also back on the field Friday. His return meant Dupree Hart, the Trojans' explosive freshman, could play his mix of tailback and wideout to maximize his speed -- he had 10 catches for 92 yards and seven carries for 37 yards.
"He might be a freshman by year, but he is not a freshman by maturity," Richardson said. "That's a big difference in why he can play at this level while others can't."
Another huge first-half factor was Northwestern's ability to convert in less-than-ideal down-and-distance situations.
The Trojans' second touchdown came on a third-and-goal pass from Rudolph to B.J. Boyd. Their third one happened in a very similar fashion, this time with Randolph finding Rontavius McClure on third-and-2 from the 3-yard line.
NORTHWESTERN 49, CLOVER 0
NORTHWESTERN--Gage Miller 49 pass from Mason Rudolph (Nick Dakes kick)
NORTHWESTERN--B.J. Boyd 4 pass from Rudolph (kick blocked)
NORTHWESTERN--Rontavius McClure 3 pass from Rudolph (Dakes kick)
NORTHWESTERN--Boyd 37 pass from Rudolph (kick failed)
NORTHWESTERN--Dakes 29 field goal
NORTHWESTERN--Boyd 66 pass from Rudolph (Dakes kick)
NORTHWESTERN--LaThomas Long 5 run (kick failed)
NORTHWESTERN--Adis Crosby 11 run (Dakes kick)
RUSHING -- CLOVER: Ryan Moore 22-77, LaDarius Adams 19-49, Aaron Felder 1-1, Benjamin Forbes 2-7, DeForrest McCombs 1-10, Scott Jackson 3-0. NORTHWESTERN: LaThomas Long 6-49, Dupree Hart 7-37, Mason Rudolph 3-(minus-5), A.J. McCoy 5-17, Adis Crosby 5-25, Andre Gaston 1-3, Tori Adams 1-0. PASSING -- CLOVER: LaDarius Adams 0-6-0, Scott Jackson 0-1-0. NORTHWESTERN: Mason Rudolph 22-33-346, Matthew Turney 3-3-32.
RECEIVING -- CLOVER: none. NORTHWESTERN: B.J. Boyd 7-170, Dupree Hart 10-92, Rontavius McClure 3-34, Gage Miller 1-49, LaThomas Long 1-1, A.J. McCoy 1-7, Mustavia Love 1-12, Jaquavious Mackey 1-13.
RECORDS: NORTHWESTERN 6-3, CLOVER 2-7