FLORENCE — In a contrast of two different offenses one that grounds and pounds and the other that airs it out Northwestern held on for a 40-28 win over West Florence at a chilly Florence Memorial Stadium in the 4A Division II playoffs.
The No. 5 Trojans had their hands full with the Knights as they led by just a score at the half, but two touchdowns in the third quarter was what they needed to push them over the top.
West Florence is a really good team, said Trojans coach Kyle Richardson. We knew we were going to be in a dog fight.
The winner of the game will face either Bluffton or Goose Creek, which was reinstated into the 4A playoffs after taking its fight to court Friday morning. Goose Creek won, however. The state high school league will revisit Goose Creeks fate Monday to see once again if they are removed from the playoffs.
That being said, depending again on the outcome, the Trojans opponent could be Bluffton, which would travel to Northwestern. If Northwestern plays Goose Creek, it will be a road game because they are the higher seed.
Richardson didnt give a preference in who he wanted to play next week saying, I am just glad to be playing on Friday.
Northwestern junior quarterback Mason Rudolph threw four touchdowns while completing 32-of-42 passes for 344 yards.
Junior Mustafia Love caught 11 passes for 125 yards and senior Rontavius McClure caught seven for 102. Senior running back Lathomas Long also rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries scoring three times.
West Florence is known for its ground game, but Knights quarterback Marquane Goodman, a sophomore, did well through the air by going 13-of-32 for 277 yards.
Goodman kept the Knights in the game trailing by 19 to start the final quarter as he scampered in from 17 yards to pull West Florence within a dozen, but the Northwestern defense held tight for the rest of the game.
The Trojans extended their lead about midway through the third quarter as Rudolph again went to the air for the majority of the seven play drive, before Long took the ball in from just 1 yard out. It was his second 1-yard score of the game and put the Trojans up 34-21.
Northwestern closed the quarter with about 96 seconds remaining in the third quarter as Rudolph threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, this one to McClure for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Knights got out of their offensive funk to start the second quarter and were able to move the ball on the ground. West Florence made it a ballgame, going 80 yards in 10 plays as Goodman threw a 5-yard floater to senior receiver Akeem Bostick, who snatched it out of the air for the score. Goodman completed three passes on the drive getting West Florence to within scoring distance.
After a Knights stop on defense, Bostick and Goodman hooked up again this time on a 74-yard pass as West Florence tied the game at 21 as it faced a third and five.
Frustration got to the Trojans as they were assessed two straight unsportsmanlike penalties, pushing them back to the 10 on their next drive. Northwestern struggled in the first half with penalties, getting hit with seven for over 80 yards.
Northwestern was able to recover and go 90 yards as Love and McClure caught two big passes and Long would get a 32-yard run for a first down.
Long then ran it in from 1-yard out to regain the lead for the Trojans with about 75 seconds before the half.
In the opening quarter, West Florence wasted no time in scoring as Goodman hit senior running back Jalin Dixon on a screen pass, where he sprinted 76-yards for the score on the second play of the game.
The Trojans came right back and scored on a 14-play drive as Rudolph hit Love from 10-yards to tie the game at 7-7.
The Knights coughed up the ball on their first play of its second drive, giving the ball back to Northwestern.
Northwestern took full advantage and went 60 yards in just five plays as Rudolph went 3-for-3 on the drive and hit Long for a 15-yard score to put the Trojans up.
After another defensive stop by the Trojans, they again moved the ball at will again going over half the length of the field in just 10 plays as Rudolph hit sophomore Dupree Hart for a short 6-yard score.
West Florence 28
WF Marquane Goodman 76-yard pass to Jalin Dixon (Alex Spence kick)
NW Mason Rudolph 10-yard pass to Mustafia Love (Sully Foy kick)
NW Rudolph 15-yard pass to Lathomas Long (Foy kick)
NW Rudolph six-yard pass to Dupree Hart (Foy kick)
WF Goodman five-yard pass to Akeem Bostick (Spence kick)
WF Goodman to Bostick 74-yard pass (Spencer kick)
NW Long one-yard run (Foy kick)
NW Long one-yard run (kick failed)
NW Rudolph 23-yard to Rontavius McClure (conversion failed)
WF Goodman 17-yard run (Spencer kick)
Rushing Northwestern: Mason Rudolph 10-1, Lathomas Long17-84, Tori Adams 7-33, Dupree Hart 3-18. West Florence: Darius Charles 8-51, Jalin Dixon 7-24, Marquane Goodman 14-43.
Passing Northwestern: Mason Rudolph 32-42-0 344. West Florence: Marquane Goodman 13-32-0 277.
Receiving Northwestern: Mustafia Love 11-125, Rontavius McClure 7-102, Dupree Hart 10-76, Lathomas Long 4-41. West Florence: Akeem Bostick 5-135, Darius Charles 1-20, Jalin Dixon 2-74, Kel Durant 2-1, Xavier Blow 3-47.
Records: Northwestern 11-2, West Florence 10-3.