Trojans’ ground game on full display in win over York

Herald CorrespondentNovember 22, 2013 

“Air Raid?” What “Air Raid?”

Those who watched the Class 4A-Division II playoff showdown between No. 2 seed Northwestern and No. 10 York might have been wondering what was going on.

Northwestern (13-0) looked more like a ground-and-pound team instead of an anything-goes-passing attack. Mason Rudolph (15 carries, 80 yards) looked more like a dual threat than a pocket passer. Julian Shockley (12 carries, 101 yards) took advantage of a two-high safety look by York (10-3), and the Trojans beat the Cougars 39-7 at District Three Stadium to advance to the Upper State championship game next Friday.

“It was one of those things where that’s what they gave us and we took advantage of it,” Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s run or pass for us, we have to take what we get and execute.”

Rudolph obliged and echoed those sentiments, but he did have a question for his coach.

“I asked (Richardson) ‘Is this the Wing-T or something?’” Rudolph said. “They were overloading a bunch of people to one side, so we took what they gave us.”

Shockley kick-started the running game in the first quarter with six carries for 43 yards. It doesn’t look like much, but five of those carries resulted in first downs and helped set up two TD passes.

“If you don’t the respect the run we’ll run,” Shockley said. “Hopefully the same thing will happen that happened with York. If they’re keeping people back, we’re going to run.”

Rudolph did his best Tim Tebow-impersonation on a steady diet of lead-draws and quarterback keepers. Rudolph had nine carries for 52 yards in the first half and keyed a 99-yard touchdown drive that helped the Trojans take control.

Backed up at the two yard line, Rudolph started the 16-play, 99-yard march in the second quarter with a 19-yard draw that eliminated the threat of a safety. The Trojans ran 14 runs on 16 plays. Rudolph led the way with six carries for 39 yards, including a smart play on fourth and goal.

Rudolph initially took the sneak up the middle, but instead shuffled to the left, which was wide open, for a one-yard touchdown and a 19-0 lead. Northwestern had 21 rush attempts for 130 yards at halftime against 14 passing attempts and 135 yards.

A 10-play drive in the third quarter featured nine more runs, and this time Dupree Hart closed with a one-yard TD run. Northwestern cruised from there -- Rudolph added another sneak for a score in the final minute of the third quarter -- but the emphasis on the running game isn’t a coincidence.

Remember, Greenwood beat Northwestern in last year’s Class 4A-Division II state championship game, and ended the game with 24 consecutive run plays. Rudolph, however, isn’t ready to proclaim Northwestern a Wing-T team yet.

“It’ a week-by-week game-plan for us,” Rudolph said. “We’ll just take whatever a defense gives us and try to put up some points.”

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