Sometimes it's fashionable to show up late for the party, even when it's your party.
On the night before his 18th birthday, Northwestern quarterback Justin Worley threw a rare interception in a rare scoreless first quarter.
Then a rare celebration of Palmetto State high school football history took place in the second quarter. Worley broke the state record for passing touchdowns in a single season with a pair of scores. The Trojans coasted from there in a 49-35 win against the Ashley Ridge Swamp Foxes in Class AAAA-Division II playoff action Friday at District Three Stadium.
Northwestern (13-0) advances to face Goose Creek (13-0) for the Upper State championship Nov. 26.
"We get to play football another week," Northwestern coach Jimmy "Moose" Wallace said. "Our kids won the game, that's the most important thing. Our kids won, and their kids played hard."
Worley finished with 349 yards and four touchdowns. Worley's second touchdown broke the single-season passing touchdown record of 53 held by former Byrnes standout Willy Korn.
Worley, however, wanted to talk about the showdown at Goose Creek.
"We get to play in an Upper State championship again," Worley said. "Hopefully, it will be the same result as the last two years."
Ashley Ridge (6-7) hung tough in the first quarter, and Lamar Mitchell intercepted Worley at the 2:51 mark. The Swamp Foxes drove to the 22-yard line, but quarterback Cameron Cox was stuffed on a fourth-and-2.
The Trojans followed with a 77-yard scoring drive in 56 seconds in which LaThomas Long finished with a 6-yard run.
Ashley Ridge responded with a touchdown pass from Cox to Seamus McKinney, but Worley answered with the record-setting scores.
Worley tied the record with a 25-yard fade to Robert Joseph. He made history with an 11-yard connection to Brandon Lewis with 1:21 left in the half for a 21-7 lead.
"Those touchdowns were important because we didn't score in the first quarter," Worley said. "We got off to a slow start, but (offensive coordinator) Kyle Richardson made the right adjustments at halftime."
Long opened the second half with a 28-yard touchdown run, but Ashley Ridge's Frankie Hayward returned the ensuing kick 75 yards for a touchdown.
Worley connected with four different receivers on four plays in response, the final pass a 7-yard score to B.J. Boyd for a 35-14 lead.
Northwestern's TyDerrick Robinson provided the exclamation point with a 73-yard fumble return for a score on the next possession with 2:37 left in the third period.
Worley finished the Swamp Foxes with a 52-yard strike to Boyd, who racked up a game-high 11 catches for 126 yards.
"Coach called the right play," Boyd said. "Their safeties bit up a little bit, and it was there."
Ashley Ridge scored 21 points in the final nine minutes for the final margin.
"We're excited to get a look at the game film," Wallace said. "We knew their kids wouldn't quit."
ASHLEY RIDGE 35
N--LaThomas Long 6 run (Sully Foy kick)
AR--Seamus McKinney 6 pass from Cameron Cox (Dalton Robinson kick)
N--Robert Joseph 15 pass from Justin Worley (kick failed)
N--Brandon Lewis 11 pass from Worley (Long two-point conversion)
N--Long 28 run (Foy kick)
AR--Frankie Hayward 75 kickoff return (Robinson kick)
N--B.J. Boyd 7 pass from Worley (Long two-point conversion)
N--TyDerrick Robinson 73 fumble return (Foy kick)
N--Boyd 52 pass from Worley (Foy kick)
AR--Romelo Doctor 2 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Cox 23 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Nick Webb 3 pass from Cox (Robinson kick)
RUSHING - Ashley Ridge: Cox 21-107, Doctor 19-148, Vernon Moree 2-8, Jacob Thompson 1-0. Northwestern: Long 8-90, Delvieon McCleod 1-7, A.J. McCoy 1-1, Worley 4-7.
PASSING - Ashley Ridge: Cox 22-38-1, 186 yards, McKinney 0-1-0, 0 yards. Northwestern: Worley 30-37-1, 349 yards, Matt Turney 2-2-0, 7 yards.
RECEIVING - Ashley Ridge: Doctor 6-26, Webb 7-74, McKinney 5-31, Moree 5-55. Northwestern: Boyd 11-126, Joseph 5-56, Stewart Hunt 3-44, McCleod 6-52, Lewis 4-60, Rontavious McClure 2-12, Jeff Long 1-7.
RECORDS: Ashley Ridge 6-7, Northwestern 13-0.