GAFFNEY — Earlier in the week, Northwestern football coach Kyle Richardson called his team’s road games, “business trips.” Friday night at Gaffney, the Trojans did some good business, shocking the nationally ranked Indians 49-19.
“We felt that if we came in and just focused on our game plan we could take care of business,” said Richardson. “We hit ’em early and just kept on them. We felt like we were going to be in better shape, and that showed.”
Gaffney didn’t have enough pickle juice to deal with Northwestern’s high paced attack on both sides of the ball. The Trojans dominated Dan Jones’ Indians in nearly every phase, making the Indians look far different from the preseason juggernaut that was ranked 70th nationally and top-three in the state in numerous polls. The Trojans had several sacks, three interceptions, ran a kickoff back and executed Richardson’s quick fire offense to near perfection in an all-around satisfying performance.
Much was made of Gaffney’s vaunted defensive line, stocked with a number of Division I recruits. But they were nowhere to be seen as the Trojans coldly carved up the Indians’ defense, putting up the highest point total Gaffney has allowed since a 60-7 loss to Byrnes in 2009. Junior quarterback Mason Rudolph orchestrated Northwestern’s offense with ease, completing 25 of 38 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns, and tacking on a rushing score to boot.
The Trojans’ eight-play first drive set the tone for the evening with Tori Adams punching in from two yards after three double-digit gains by DuPree Hart.
The Trojans scored again to take a 14-0 lead into the second quarter, before Gaffney finally got on the board. Luke Lancaster found Shaq Davidson for a 17-yard Indians score with six minutes left in the half.
That was enough time for the Trojans to score twice before heading into the locker room.
Mustafia Love caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and LaThomas Long broke a tackle on his way to a 47-yard scoring scamper to give the visitors a comfy halftime advantage.
The script stayed the same in the second half, as Northwestern added to its lead in less than a minute to go up 35-7. Jaquavious Mackey returned the opening kickoff 59 yards deep into Gaffney territory and Mason Rudolph found Hart for a 12-yard touchdown connection to put the Trojans ahead 35-7 with only 53 seconds off the clock.
Gaffney may have harbored a whimper of hope when Hyleck Foster punched in a one-yard run to make it 35-13 with eight minutes left in the third. But Mackey returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, hushing the crowd at The Reservation and ensuring that the Trojans ended their first business trip of the year with a win that opened eyes statewide.
“Northwestern’s not got a bad program itself,” Richardson said afterward. “We’re 25-21 against them and have won five of the last six. A lot of people doubted us, but those boys in that (locker) room right there never doubted.”
Northwestern 49, Gaffney 19
9:06 NHS -- Tori Adams 2 run (Sully Foy kick)
2:25 NHS – LaThomas Long 12 run (Foy kick)
6:55 GHS – Luke Lancaster 17 pass to Shaq Davidson (Victor Ramirez kick)
5:24 NHS – Mason Rudolph 12 pass to Mustafia Love (Foy kick)
3:20 NHS – Long 12 run (Foy kick)
11:03 NHS – Rudolph 13 pass to DuPree Hart (Foy kick)
8:49 GHS – Hyleck Foster 1 run (Ramirez kick blocked)
8:37 NHS – Jaquavious Mackey 90 kick return (Foy kick)
5:19 GHS – Lancaster to Eddie Studyvance (Ramirez kick blocked)
11:11 NHS – Rudolph 1 run (Foy kick)
RUSHING Northwestern: LaThomas Long 8-93; Mason Rudolph 8-45; DuPree Hart 7-23; Tori Adams 5-0. Gaffney: Hyleck Foster 16-53; JoJo McGill 12-39; Luke Lancaster 6-16; Shaq Davidson 2- -16.
PASSING Northwestern: Mason Rudolph 25-38-0-282. Gaffney: Luke Lancaster 31-58-3-278.
RECEIVING Northwestern: DuPree Hart 9-113; Mustafia Love 7-98; LaThomas Long 4-29; Rontavious McClure 3-28; Ahmad Dewese 2-14. Gaffney: Brandon Bevis 7-72; Eddie Studyvance 8-69; Shaq Davidson 6-54; Bryce Spurlin 4-41; Hyleck Foster 5-38; JoJo McGill 1-4.
RECORDS Northwestern 1-0; Gaffney 0-1.
Bret McCormick 329-4032