ROCK HILL — Its safe to say the Northwestern Trojans werent looking ahead to next weeks Class 4A showdown against the top-ranked Byrnes Rebels.
A 28-point first quarter barrage one that included three touchdowns in a little more than two minutes is proof of that.
Northwestern used that to coast to a 56-26 win against the South Aiken Thoroughbreds at District Three Stadium on Friday. Coach Kyle Richardson knows theres room for improvement, with four third-quarter turnovers.
We executed our offense in the first half and struggled a bit in the second half, Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson said. That much was easy to see, but a win is a win.
The Trojans statistics were of the usual double-take variety. Mason Rudolph finished 26-of-30 passing for 351 yards and six TDs. Dupree Hart added 128 total yards and three TDs. LaThomas Long finished with 99 total yards and two TDs. Through three games, Northwestern (3-0) averages 53.3 points per game.
The Trojans took a 7-0 lead in highlight-reel fashion. Hart was bottled up on the right sideline after a short reception, but he juked one defender, ran through a face mask by another and zoomed into the end zone.
Dupree shows up every day, not just Friday when the lights come on, Hart said. He shows up in the meetings, in practice and he comes out and makes plays like that.
The three-TD onslaught started at the 2:20 mark. LaThomas Long scored on a 37-yard draw for a 14-0 lead, and Northwesterns Cory Sargent followed with an interception on the next possession. Quarterback Mason Rudolph eluded a sack and found Hart for a 15-yard TD three plays later.
The Trojans werent finished. Andre Gaston recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Rudolph needed just one play to find a leaping Long for a 22-yard score on the last play of the quarter for a 28-0 advantage.
(Hart and Long) are great athletes, Rudolph said. They bail me out on the busted plays, but our offensive did great tonight. It makes the job easier.
South Aiken (0-3) scored on a three-yard plunge from Damion Brown in the second quarter, but Rudolph and Hart connected for their third TD for a 35-6 lead before intermission. Rudolph finished 17-of-19 for 227 yards in the first half alone.
Northwestern committed all four turnovers in the third quarter. South Aikens Evan Kearse had a six-yard interception for a score, but the Trojans held the Thoroughbreds scoreless on the other three miscues.
We cant come out like that in the first half or second half and expect to win football games, Richardson said.
Rudolph righted Northwestern with a three-yard TD pass to Mustafia Love on the next drive, but Brown answered with a 44-yard score to cut the lead to 42-20. Northwestern finally put South Aiken away with a 41-yard pass from Rudolph to Rontavious McClure early in the fourth quarter.
That sets up what is sure to be the most hyped game in the state next week against Byrnes.
Were Northwestern and our kids know we play in big games, Richardson said. Its going to be no different next Friday. Its going to be great for Northwestern, Byrnes and the state of South Carolina.
South Aiken 26
NW-Mason Rudolph 37 pass to Dupree Hart (Sully Foy kick)
NW-LaThomas Long 37 run (Foy kick)
NW-Rudolph 15 pass to Hart (Foy kick)
NW-Rudolph 22 pass to Long (Foy kick)
SA-Damion Brown 3 run (Kick failed)
NW-Rudolph 22 pass to Hart (Foy kick)
SA-Evan Kearse 8 interception return (Matt Albertson kick)
NW-Rudolph 3 pass to Mustafia Love (Foy kick)
SA-Brown 44 run (Albertson kick)
NW-Rudolph 41 pass to Rontavious McClure (Foy kick)
SA-Will Holbrook 1 run (Kick failed)
NW-Matt Worley 3 pass to Hamp Wright (Josh Bell kick)
RUSHING SOUTH AIKEN: Adam Allen 19-58, Brown 10-58, Holbrook 12-42, DeAndre Schoultz 1-(-5). NORTHWESTERN: Long 5-67, Andre Gaston 5-23, Hart 3-19, Rudolph 3-9.
PASSING SOUTH AIKEN: Holbrook 12-20-2, 146 yards. NORTHWESTERN: Rudolph 26-30-2, 351 yards; Worley 4-4-0, 27 yards.
RECEIVING SOUTH AIKEN: Teddrick Steadman 5-52, Schoultz 4-45, Kearse 1-35, Brown 2-4. NORTHWESTERN: Rontavious McClure 8-133, Long 2-32, Hart 6-109, Love 8-59, Tori Adams 3-24, Gaston 1-12, Ahmad Dewese 1-6, Wright 1-3.
RECORDS: South Aiken 0-3, Northwestern 3-0.