Kick returns spark Northwestern Trojans to big rivalry win over Rock Hill

bmccormick@heraldonline.comNovember 8, 2013 

  • Friday’s area scores

    Nation Ford 35, Fort Mill 28

    Northwestern 66, Rock Hill 19

    South Pointe 42, Lancaster 0

    York 13, Clover 10

    Columbia 18, Indian Land 5

    Great Falls 29, McBee 22

    Christ Church 66, Lewisville 0

Northwestern completed the fourth perfect regular season in the school’s 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 Richardson’s 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 Northwestern’s defense held an opponent to fewer than 20 points for the ninth time in 11 games.

“There’s three seasons to a football season, non-region, region and playoffs,” Richardson said. “They’ve won the non-region, they’ve won the region, but at this point, all of that’s in the past and we’ve 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 Jau’Quan Feaster steepened the grade. Joe Montgomery’s bunch of plucky 10th graders kept the game interesting in the first quarter but didn’t 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 Herald’s late sports editor Barry Byers. But Friday night’s 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 Northwestern’s 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 Foy’s 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 Deller’s 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 he’s a big-time play-maker, and that’s why he’s 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 didn’t punt until the fourth quarter when they led by 47. Dupree Hart’s 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 Northwestern’s 42-0 win in 2010, the last season the Trojans went undefeated and won a state title.

Northwestern 66, Rock Hill 19

Rock Hill71200-19

Scoring summary

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)

Team statistics

First downs1720
Passing yards271321

Individual statistics

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.

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