Northwestern quarterback Justin Worley didn't go into his third straight state championship game with a point to prove or with a chip on his shoulder.
But when the night was over, and the Trojans had broken a two-game slide with a 42-10 win over Greenwood to win their first state title since a 2-0 win over Gaffney in 2003, it was an end of a tremendous high school career.
And not only was it a fitting end, with Worley passing for 263 yards and five touchdowns, he showed the fans who braved the cold night at USC's Williams-Brice Stadium that yes, Northwestern was more than a team that throws it up and down the field.
Worley said earlier this week that people didn't recognize the Trojans ability to drive the ball. So on the first series of his final game, Worley gave folks a demonstration.
Never miss a local story.
Northwestern put the ball in play at its 13 after the opening kickoff. The Trojans marched down the field, scoring on a 17-play drive that lasted six minutes and 45 seconds and covered 87 yards.
It included nine running plays for 39 yards and eight passes, five completed for 48 yards. And on the final toss, Worley did what he does best. He threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Stewart Hunt, his 60th this season and 153rd of his career.
Northwestern, Class AAAA's No. 2-ranked team, opened in 1971. The Trojans' have played in eight state championship games, winning their third, but this year's 15-0 record marked the first undefeated football season in school history.
"Two years ago, we played South Pointe and they had an all-world quarterback who's now a starting cornerback here at USC," Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace said. "And last year we lost to Berkeley, whose quarterback is now a starting guard for South Carolina basketball team.
"When we stepped off the bus this year,so did number 17 (Justin Worley) for the final game of his senior year. He's been a special player, but all of our kids are special. That's why winning on our third try and going undefeated is tremendous."
Greenwood moved the ball on Northwestern's bend-but-not-break defense, but the players on that side played a huge role in pushing the Trojans out front. Northwestern's second touchdown came two plays into the second quarter. Eagles quarterback DJ Dunlap fumbled and Nick Cousar fell on it at the 5.
After a five-yard delay of game penalty, Worley looked left before turning right and finding Delvieon McCloed running along in the flat. He made the catch and ran it in for a 10-yard touchdown.
Greenwood had two scoring opportunities in the first half, but failed to convert on a pair of fourth down attempts. The first ended at the Trojans' 27 on an incomplete pass, the second was on a fake field goal from 34 yards away. Holder Aukeem Willis tossed a shovel pass into the middle of the line. The ball fell incomplete and the Trojans took over at the Greenwood 17.
"We don't turn the ball over and maybe score if we get those two first downs and we're in the game," Greenwood coach Gene Cathcart said. "But, we didn't, that's football, and we allowed Northwestern to get out to a nice lead. They have a tremendous team but so do we. It would have taken our best effort to win this game."
Northwestern scored in the final minute of the half on Worley's 17-yard TD pass to Robert Joseph, his first of three scoring catches on the night.
Little did either team know at the time that was all it would take for Northwestern to win the championship.
Dunlap had a good game running the ball, with 83 yards, but he was able to reach the end zone only one time, that coming with 2:28 left. Northwestern defensive back Kenny Mitchell said he knew the game was going to be physical and that the Trojans were ready to play that kind of ball.
"They have a good ball team, but I think we're pretty good too. We went in knowing that all we had to do was hold them down and our offense would put points on the board," Mitchell said.
N - Stewart Hunt 5 pass from Justin Worley (Sully Foy kick)
N - Delvieon McCloed 10 pass from Worley (Foy kick)
N - Robert Joseph 12 pass from Worley (Foy kick)
N - Joseph 19 pass from Worley (Foy kick)
G - Matt McManis 29 field goal
N - LaThomas Long 6 run (Foy kick)
N - Joseph 19 pass from Worley (Foy kick)
G - D.J. Dunlap 2 run (McManis kick)
RUSHING -- Northwestern: Long 9-44, McCloed 1-1, Worley 8-24. Greenwood: Dunlap 20-106, David Shavoy Davis 6-36, Ran Ethridge 9-32, D.J. Goodman 5-29, Kevon Harrison 4-4.
PASSING -- Northwestern: Justin Worley 26-42-0, 263 yards. Greenwood: D.J. Dunlap 4-15-1, 58 yards; Aukeem Willis 0-1-0, 0 yards
RECEIVING -- Northwestern: Joseph 12-121, B.J. Boyd 6-52, McCloed 5-56, Long 2-29, Hunt 1-5. Greenwood: Spearman Robinson 3-39, Ethridge 1-19.
RECORDS: Northwestern 15-0, Greenwood 13-2.