When they discuss this year's Northwestern-South Pointe game 10 years from now, it will be remembered as "The Quarter."
Trojans quarterback Justin Worley threw five touchdown passes in a 4:50 stretch of the third quarter on Saturday, turning a 20-7 deficit to city rival South Pointe into a comfortable 42-20 lead.
Although there was an entire quarter and change left to play, the shocked Stallions never recovered, dropping their ESPNU debut to Northwestern by the same score.
"Their defense is good. It's strong; they got a weightlifting class all the kids take," South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll said. "We ain't got there yet. They were just bigger and stronger than us up front."
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On the other sideline, Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace couldn't have been more pleased. A first half that was mostly forgettable and that had his squad playing from its heels turned into a dominating start to the season.
"We tried to protect, we tried to sit in there," Wallace said. "Obviously, I'm proud of our offense and our defense just hung in. Total team win."
Yet as Northwestern's entire defense celebrated the defensive MVP award, the spotlight switched to Worley. He drew some comparisons to former NFL quarterback Doug Williams of the Redskins (also a No. 17), who directed five touchdown drives in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII to win MVP honors. Worley actually did Williams one better, throwing for all five of his scores.
"We just had to get a little more protection up front," Worley said. "I just didn't have time to throw deep in the first half. We made some adjustments at halftime and came back out."
Trailing after 20 unanswered South Pointe points, Northwestern (1-0) shucked its first-half game plan. Mindful of the hulking Jadeveon Clowney in the Stallions' defense - he was switching from end to nose guard all afternoon - the Trojans came out working side-to-side instead of the cherished deep ball that defines their "Air Raid" offense.
But halfway through the third quarter, Worley finally took a chance and connected. Brandon Lewis took a slant and turned it into a 47-yard catch-and-run to the red zone; two plays later, Worley withstood Clowney grabbing him around the legs and tossed a soft 18-yarder to a wide-open Stewart Hunt for the touchdown.
With the ample purple-clad crowd back into the game, the Trojans stayed away from the Stallions' dangerous returners and lofted the next kickoff high and to the right, aiming for the second line of coverage. The gamble paid off when James Jackson couldn't hold onto the catch, which left Northwestern's Tony Porter room to jump on the ball.
Sensing the momentum switching and trying to get it firmly into the home side of the field, Worley connected on another long pass to reach the 3-yard-line, then screened to LaThomas Long around right end. Two touchdowns in 1:25 equaled the Trojans' first lead since the first quarter, and they immediately wanted more.
Nicholas Cousar of Northwestern intercepted Tay Hicklin, Cousar's second recovered turnover of the game, and returned deep into South Pointe land. Worley stepped in and quickly found Lewis for a 24-yard scoring scamper as the Stallions frantically tried to stop the carnage.
No such luck. Following another Stallions turnover, Worley completed a 50-yard pass, then a 4-yard touchdown to Robert Joseph. Still not through, with the clock ticking toward five minutes of scoring brilliance, Worley arched a 57-yard pattern to Lewis on his first play of the next series for the 42-20 lead.
Five touchdowns, all in the air, 4:50. Worley didn't miss a pass and threw for 251 of his 310 yards in the second half.
The Stallions (1-1) hardly made a peep afterward. A running team that had seen its proud defense gashed so quickly, South Pointe quietly ran out the clock.
"We're not very effective throwing the football," Carroll said. "We can't protect the quarterback real well yet. We're still young and dealing with this offense, and that's something we've got to work on."
Each defensive front line controlled the first half. A first-quarter fumble by South Pointe gave the Trojans a 7-0 first-quarter lead. But Northwestern turnovers (Worley also threw two first-half interceptions) got the Stallions going.
Two Landon Ard field goals and two quick-strike touchdowns gave South Pointe a comfortable advantage halfway through the third, but then the Trojans woke their slumbering offense. One long pass turned to two, two turned to four and suddenly there were five touchdowns softly glowing from the scoreboard.
"We just can't turn the ball over so many times in one quarter," Carroll said. "Cannot do that. But we're a young team, and we're still learning."