Northwestern can score points in a hurry. This much we knew.
But North Augusta's ability to score them nice and slow was the difference Friday night.
The visiting Yellow Jackets pounded out a 31-21 win at District Three Stadium, convincing in every way.
If it wasn't for Northwestern's quick-strike ability on both sides of the ball, it wouldn't have been as close as it seemed. North Augusta dominated both sides of the ball throughout the night, with nearly 70 percent of the time of possession (33 minutes and 24 seconds) and almost doubling Northwestern's yardage total (389-205).
That had Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson shaking his head, as his team gave away the few chances it had to gain momentum against the undefeated Yellow Jackets (6-0).
"Offensively and defensively, we just had some letdowns, and in the end, they cost us a game," Richardson said. "We had a lot of distractions throughout the week, and we've got to work harder to make sure we stay focused at all times."
Richardson wouldn't elaborate on the distractions - "Nothing I want to say," he replied - but said no players were missing from the lineup.
What was missing was their normal spark, as it was North Augusta that made the big plays throughout the night.
Led by senior running back Vinny Miller (37 rushes for 149 yards) and senior receiver Montez McGuire (10 catches for 160 yards), the Jackets rolled with four possessions of at least 10 plays.
North Augusta raced to a 14-0 lead before the Trojans offense had a chance to break a sweat.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, North Augusta churned out a 10-play drive, capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tyrell Hillary to John Chambers.
After the next Northwestern three-and-out, it didn't take nearly that long to pad it. On third-and-10, Hillary dropped back and found McGuire for a 57-yard touchdown pass.
The Trojans gathered themselves on their next possession, gaining their two first-half first downs, with an impossible-looking third-and-24 forgotten when Mason Rudolph found B.J. Boyd across the middle and Boyd raced 64 yards for the score.
The Yellow Jackets followed with another long march, with DeVonte Pressley's 8-yard touchdown run punctuating an 11-play drive.
But while Northwestern closed the gap to 20-14 after an 85-yard interception return by Devante Gibson, North Augusta owned the first half. It outgained the Trojans 222-84 in the first half, and 64 of Northwestern's yards were on the long touchdown pass to Boyd. Otherwise, that left 20 yards on 14 offensive snaps, leaving it fortunate to be so close. North Augusta held the ball for 17:44 in the first half, leaving just 6:16 for the Trojans.
And the way the second half started, it looked like it might not matter.
Freshman Dupree Hart raced through the middle for a 33-yard touchdown, and the Trojans actually led the game 78 seconds into the second half. They followed by forcing their own quick defensive stop, but a missed field goal next time out seemed to sap them of whatever momentum they had built.
Another 11-play touchdown drive followed (Hillary hitting McGuire for his second), and when Rudolph threw his second interception of the night in the end zone, the Jackets again answered with a clock-killing possession, with Mitch Redd's 23-yard field goal culminating a 17-play drive.
The bright spot of the night for the Trojans (4-2) was the play of diminutive freshman Hart, who pinballed his way to 108 combined yards from scrimmage.
NORTH AUGUSTA 31, NORTHWESTERN 21
NA -- Tyrell Hillary 4 pass to John Chambers (Mitch Redd kick).
NA -- Tyrell Hillary 57 pass to Montez McGuire (Mitch Redd kick).
NW -- Mason Rudolph 64 pass to B.J. Boyd (Sully Foy kick).
NA -- DeVonte Pressley 8 run (kick failed).
NW -- Devante Gibson 85 interception return (Sully Foy kick).
NW -- Dupree Hart 33 run (Sully Foy kick).
NA -- Tyrell Hillary 14 pass to Montez McGuire (Hillary pass to McGuire).
NA -- Mitch Redd 23 field goal.
RUSHING -- NORTHWESTERN: Dupree Hart 7-60, Mason Rudolph 10-(-8). NORTH AUGUSTA: Vinny Miller 37-149, Tyrell Hillary 11-28-x, DeVonte Pressley 2-8, Montez McGuire 1-3.
PASSING -- NORTHWESTERN: Rudolph 17-23-2 153 yards. NORTH AUGUSTA: Hillary 14-22-1 201 yards.
RECEIVING -- NORTHWESTERN: Marcus Marshall 1-4, Dupree Hart 8-48, B.J. Boyd 6-84, Dee Hardin 1-13, Rontavius McClure 1-4. NORTH AUGUSTA: Montez McGuire 10-160, John Chambers 3-32, Trey Morgan 1-9.
RECORDS: Northwestern: 4-2. North Augusta: 6-0.