Northwestern Trojans improve to 2-0 with 38-17 win over Charlotte Catholic

bmccormick@heraldonline.comAugust 30, 2013 

— Much of the talk entering Friday night’s Northwestern-Charlotte Catholic football game centered on one Cougar: locomotive running back Elijah Hood.

Roughly 40 Trojans ensured that the talk afterward was about one team: Northwestern.

Hood rushed for 190 yards and broke the Mecklenburg County all-time rushing record, but Kyle Richardson’s crew preyed upon three Catholic interceptions in a 38-17 win at District 3 Stadium.

“Like we said all week, we weren’t gonna stop him,” Richardson said afterward, his daughter draped around his neck. “We just tried to find a way, bottom line, for him to not beat us, and that’s what we did.”

Northwestern (2-0) stacked the box to prevent Hood, a North Carolina commitment who averaged nearly 12 yards per carry en route to a 3,300-yard, 48-touchdown 2012 season, from ripping off any of the lengthy, sapping runs he’s known for. His longest effort from scrimmage was 16 yards, a week after posting 63- and 47-yard touchdowns in a win over Gonzaga (D.C.).

“We were excited,” said Northwestern linebacker Russell Hubbs about the prospect of facing Hood. “We love tough competition. We go against it every practice.”

Catholic’s offense was limited to just one touchdown in its lowest scoreboard output since a December 2010 loss.

“They just blitzed the linebackers and we couldn’t pick them up,” said longtime Catholic (1-1) coach Jim Oddo. “We had a few runs in there, but we didn’t block well. They’re a little heavier, a little bigger.”

Catholic’s three interceptions spoke of a rough night for Cougars quarterback Ryan Miller. He completed 1 of 5 passes, and there seemed to be a sense that Oddo’s team might not be able to stop the Trojans’ offense, prodding them from their normal modus operandi of pounding the football through Hood.

“It’s not what they typically do, so we just stayed in there and played our normal defense,” Richardson said, referring to Trojans interceptions by Corey Seargent, Jaquavious Mackey and Gabe Gresham.

Ultimately, the Cougars weren’t able to stop the Trojans’ offense; Northwestern’s first and only punt of the game came with about four minutes left. While Mason Rudolph and his receivers weren’t always on the same page, senior Quadarius Fair had another excellent outing, benefitting from the attention doled out to his cohorts Dupree Hart and Mustafia Love. Fair finished with 10 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

“Teams have got to decide,” Richardson said. “That’s kind of what’s happened the last two weeks; they’ve overplayed Dupree, which is back-to-back weeks he’s scored on the same play. They jump Dupree and then (Fair) scoots out the backdoor.”

Oddo was less technical in his assessment.

“We just don’t have the speed to cover those kids,” he said. “They’re good.”

Friday night’s tilt was Catholic’s first against a Palmetto State opponent since 1996 when they thumped Indian Land, but the visitors fell behind 10-0 within the first six minutes due largely to a pair of expensive giveaways. Catholic quarterback Ryan Miller’s first passing attempt, on a play-action fake, was intercepted by Seargent and returned to the Cougars’ 10-yard line. Rudolph smashed in from a yard out several plays later for the first of his three 1-yard touchdowns.

Oddo’s team fell further behind after a long snap soared over punter Topher Kline’s head and Seargent plopped on him at the Cougars’ 18. The Catholic defense bowed though and held the Trojans to a 22-yard Sully Foy field goal.

Ditching the pass, Catholic got back to what it does best to cut the Trojans’ lead to 10-3. Hood ran the ball 10 times in a nearly 8-minute possession, but Northwestern stood up the visitors in the red zone, holding them to a 25-yard Kline field goal.

The score was tied just over a minute later. After marching the Trojans deep into the Catholic end, Rudolph’s pass to Tori Adams was too hot, skipping off his hands and into the waiting arms of Sam Wolljung, who took the pick 77 yards the other way for a pick-six.

Northwestern reclaimed the lead before the midway recess, a smooth drive culminating in another Rudolph touchdown from 1 yard, and they held the advantage after Miller threw an ill-advised into double coverage and Mackey made him pay, intercepting the ball at the Northwestern 3 to squelch the danger.

When Northwestern scored within 51 seconds of the second half kickoff, the game was well and truly in the Trojans’ control. Rudolph found Love for a 15-yard catch and run, before Fair slipped into open space and scored on a 36-yard touchdown connection to make it 24-10. He scored his fifth touchdown of the season later in the quarter, catching a square-in route over the middle and bursting into open space for a 45-yard, Cougar-breaking touchdown.

Northwestern 38, Charlotte Catholic 17

CCHS01007-17
NHS107147-38

Scoring summary

NHS – Sully Foy 22 yard field goal

NHS – Mason Rudolph 1 run (Foy kick)

CCHS – Topher Kline 25 yard field goal

CCHS – Sam Wolljung 77 yard interception return (Kline kick)

NHS – Rudolph 1 run (Foy kick)

NHS – Quadarius Fair 36 pass from Rudolph (Foy kick)

NHS – Rudolph 1 run (Foy kick)

CCHS – Hood 1 run (Kline kick)

NHS – Fair 45 pass from Rudolph (Foy kick)

Team summary

CCHSNHS
First downs2021
Rushes/yards59-24222-97
Passing1-5-325-34-1
Passing yards22267
Fumbles/lost3-10-0
Penalties/yards8-774-46

Individual statistics

RUSHING CCHS: Elijah Hood 36-190; Drew Tomsho 10-47; Ryan Miller 7-37; Colton Perry 4-11; Peyton Swancy 1-1; Topher Kline 1-0. NHS: Rudolph 10-39; Tori Adams 7-32; Dupree Hart 3-18; Julian Shockley 2-8.

PASSING CCHS: Miller 5-1-3. NHS: Rudolph 34-25-1.

RECEIVING CCHS: Tyler Pumeno 1-22. NHS: Quadarius Fair 10-153; Mustafia Love 6-50; Hart 6-28; Davion Blake 2-31; Adams 1-5.

RECORDS CCHS 1-1; NHS 1-0.

Bret McCormick •  329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T

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