SIMPSONVILLE -- Forget all the warnings about Hillcrest being a trap game for the Trojans. Despite looming match-ups with inner-city rivals South Pointe and Rock Hill, Northwestern traveled to Simpsonville and trounced the Rams, 35-10 behind yet another dazzling performance by Trojan quarterback Will King.
King commanded the Trojan offense, throwing for 209 yards and five touchdown passes. In the process, King shattered the record for the most touchdown passes in a season. Needing just one to tie, King finished with five.
Receiver Cordarelle Patterson finished with the hat trick, grabbing three touchdown passes from King.
While the Trojan offense was a little sluggish in the first half, their defense picked up the slack. It took exactly two plays to cause a Rams turnover when Dewinny Mills recovered a Chris Merril fumble.
Uncharacteristically, the Trojans attempted two consecutive running plays before King found Cordarelle Patterson on a fade route around the goal line. Patterson fell into the end zone and lost control of the ball, but the officials claimed the ground caused the fumble and awarded the touchdown to the Trojans.
The touchdown pass was King's 22nd of the year, tying the season record with Bart Blanchard, but King was just getting started.
After the two teams traded punts, the Trojan defense forced Hillcrest to a three and out. Kory Pippin kicked a 41-yard punt, looking to flip the field position battle. Jared Neely had other ideas, however, fielding the punt, juking a couple of Ram defenders, and scampering 61 yards to the Hillcrest six-yard line.
After a one yard run by Neely, King threaded the needle finding Tyson Barnet for a five yard touchdown pass to set the touchdown record, but more importantly giving the Trojans a 14-0 lead.
Northwestern's defense dominated the remainder of the half up until Hillcrest's final drive of the second quarter.
The Rams took over on their own 20 yard line with 3:07 remaining, and managed to eek out enough yards and attempt a long field goal. Kori Pippin nailed a 38-yard field goal, the only Hillcrest points until the waning minutes of the game.
After the halftime break, the Trojan offense took over. King directed an eight play, 80-yard drive all through the air, culminating with another touchdown pass to Patterson. King completed seven of eight passes on the drive.
Receiver Labris Adams stepped it up a notch in the second half, finishing with seven catches, 82 yards and one touchdown in the final two periods.
The only blemish for King was an interception around the goal line late in the third period. The Trojans moved the ball inside the red zone behind three unsportsmanlike penalties by Hillcrest, but could not capitalize on the score as Rams' defensive back Patrick Neely intercepted King at the two.
"You obviously want a team that can go out and give 100 percent every week," said Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace. "We are getting there. Our offense was a little flat early, but we made our own luck with the big punt return by Jared Neely. We challenged our kids at the half and our offense really responded, especially King and Adams. We know next week is going to be big."
King agreed. "It was a little hard to get the guys pumped up for this game. We came out a little flat, but our special teams and defense bailed out the offense in the first half. We played much better in the second half. We know the importance of the next two games, and have been counting down the days for those games. Hopefully we'll have a good week of practice be ready to play well from the start."
The victory sets up a showdown next Friday at District Three Stadium when South Pointe treks five miles down the road to face the Trojans and a week later the annual showdown with the Bearcats likely will have Region 3-AAAA title implications.