Northwestern completed the fourth perfect regular season in the schools football history Friday night, beating rival Rock Hill 66-19.
The Trojans traversed the 1991, 2004 and 2010 regular seasons unscathed and capped their latest effort with a fourth straight win over their crosstown rival.
The victory read like a pamphlet on why the Trojans (11-0, 7-0) are the No. 1 Class AAAA team in the state and nationally ranked. Kyle Richardsons offense racked up 487 yards of offense and scored on all six of its red zone trips. The Trojans converted 7 of 10 third downs and quarterback Mason Rudolph threw five touchdown passes, while also running for more than 100 yards. And Northwesterns defense held an opponent to fewer than 20 points for the ninth time in 11 games.
Theres three seasons to a football season, non-region, region and playoffs, Richardson said. Theyve won the non-region, theyve won the region, but at this point, all of thats in the past and weve got to get ready for the playoffs.
Rock Hill (4-7, 3-4) faced an uphill climb even before the opening kickoff, and injuries to key offensive contributors Justin Stokes and JauQuan Feaster steepened the grade. Joe Montgomerys bunch of plucky 10th graders kept the game interesting in the first quarter but didnt have enough left in the remaining three quarters to cause an upset.
Both teams wore a blue BB sticker on their helmets in honor of the Heralds late sports editor Barry Byers. But Friday nights was no classic like the ones Byers so often wrote about. The final margin of 47 points was the most lopsided score in the history of the 39-year series.
We got beat in all three phases, Montgomery said afterward. We just got beat by a very, very good football team.
The game careened Northwesterns direction midway through the first quarter. Given plenty of time, Rudolph hit Quadarious Fair with a 20-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring for a 7-0 Northwestern lead with 6 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
It was short-lived. Tyquan Huntley returned Sully Foys kick 93 yards right up the middle of the field for a touchdown to knot the score for the Bearcats. The tie proved just as fleeting. Trojan senior Jaquavious Mackey gathered Zhenya Dellers ensuing kickoff at the 15 yard line and bolted through a channel down the left side for six points and a lead the Trojans would never surrender.
They left a hole wide open and I just took advantage of it, said Mackey, who ran another kickoff back for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving him three such scores this season. It was really big, really big. Mason (Rudolph) told me I got us back in the game by my kickoff.
That was huge for us to get back the momentum we had gained on our first score, said Richardson. But hes a big-time play-maker, and thats why hes back there.
I knew it, I knew he was gonna run it back, said Northwestern linebacker Russell Hubbs. He makes those plays when we need them.
Fair then caught two more touchdown passes in the first half, the second of which sent Northwestern into the break with a 45-19 advantage. By that time Rudolph had already shown his considerable wheels with a 36-yard touchdown run right up the gut of the Bearcat defense. The standout senior finished with more than 100 yards on the ground for the first time in his career.
The second half was mainly a formality, and there was a running clock for much of the fourth quarter, surely a first in a series of games that have so often gone down to the wire. But Friday night the Trojans didnt punt until the fourth quarter when they led by 47. Dupree Harts 55-yard touchdown catch and run gave Northwestern that lead, and a fourth down stop late in the game on fourth and goal sealed the win. The biggest margin of victory in the rivalry previously was Northwesterns 42-0 win in 2010, the last season the Trojans went undefeated and won a state title.
Northwestern 66, Rock Hill 19
NHS Quadarius Fair 20 pass from Mason Rudolph (Sully Foy kick)
RHHS Tyquan Huntley 93 kick return (Easton Templeton kick)
NHS Jaquavious Mackey 85 kick return (Foy kick)
NHS Foy 25 yard field goal
RHHS Brandon Croutch 29 run (kick blocked)
NHS Rudolph 36 run (Foy kick)
RHHS Brandon Banks 9 run (Banks run failed)
NHS Fair 5 pass from Rudolph (Foy kick)
NHS Fair 14 pass from Rudolph (Foy kick)
NHS Julian Shockley 5 pass from Rudolph (Foy kick)
NHS Shockley 9 run (Foy kick)
NHS Hart 55 pass from Rudolph (Foy kick)
RUSHING RHHS: John Cunningham 9-59; Brandon Croutch 6-54; Tim Sherer 10-53; Brandon Banks 9-6. NHS: Mason Rudolph 9-109; Dupree Hart 5-37; Julian Shockley 6-15; Tori Adams 3-6; Matthew Worley 2-6.
PASSING RHHS: Banks 13-21-1-0; Dylan Jones 3-10-0-0. NHS: Rudolph 22-30-1-5; Worley 2-2-0-0.
RECEIVING RHHS: John McCullough 5-14; DaChon Witherspoon 3-37; Thailand Adams 3-15; Tyler Brown 2-14; Sherer 3-19;. NHS: Hart 8-172; Quadarious Fair 5-60; Davion Blake 3-20; Shockley 2-38; Jaquavious Mackey 2-13; Logan Rudolph 2-7; Ahmad Dewese 1-7; Adams 1-4.
RECORDS RHHS 4-7, 3-4; NHS 11-0, 7-0.