It seems nearly impossible that a team could win a game by possessing the ball just over a quarter of the game. Northwestern somehow accomplished the feat, taking home a hard-fought, 35-31 victory over visiting Spartanburg.
The back-and-forth contest was statistically dominated by the Vikings, but it offered plenty of drama, thanks to short Northwestern touchdown drives and a Spartanburg offense that proved relentless all night. That drama carried all the way to the final Spartanburg possession.
The Vikings got the ball back with 2:46 remaining and two timeouts, driving all the way inside the Northwestern 20. Spartanburg got no closer to the endzone, though, as a fourth-down pass fell incomplete in front of the crowd at District 3 Stadium.
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Spartanburg had a fourth-and-goal inside the Northwestern 1, looking to tie the game as the third quarter neared its end. Following a Viking timeout, Spartanburg ran a toss sweep to the left side of the line. Northwestern sniffed out the play, however, as D.J. Agurs stuffed the run for a loss of five. Northwestern did not turn the stop into an eventual score, but the tackle halted a clear momentum shift in Spartanburgs direction.
Spartanburg found itself backed inside its own one-yard line as the first quarter neared its end, following a 54-yard punt by Gage Moloney. The Vikings then went on a drive of just over four minutes that took them 99 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14. A one-yard keeper by Viking quarterback William Yex capped that drive.
Northwestern began its final second-quarter possession with just over 50 seconds remaining and all three timeouts. The Trojans fumbled shortly thereafter, however, giving Spartanburg the ball back at midfield. A Caliph Price sack and a hold on the same play brought a quick halt to what was potentially a game-tying drive, though, as the half ended before Spartanburg could draw closer.
Spartanburg appeared to have halted a Northwestern drive that started at the Vikings 19, forcing a Trojans punt. Spartanburg then fumbled on the first play of the ensuing possession, allowing Gage Moloney to hit Jamario Holley from six yards out to put Northwestern ahead 35-21.
Northwestern quarterback Gage Moloney threw three touchdown passes. Two went to Jamario Holley, with Wally Wilmore catching the other. Dequez Harris also ran for a score.
Spartanburgs William Yex ran for a score and threw for two more.
Northwestern travels to Gaffney next Friday. That game will kick off at 7:30.
Northwestern 35, Spartanburg 31
SHS - William Yex 25 pass to Damyjai Foster (Will Lawson kick) 8:33
NHS - Jerry Howard 3 run (Thomas Gettys kick) 7:36
NHS - Gage Moloney 22 pass to Jamario Holley (Gettys kick) 4:31
SHS - Yex 1 run (Lawson kick) 8:17
NHS - Moloney 49 pass to Wally Wilmore (Gettys kick) 7:17
NHS - Dequez Harris 12 run (Gettys kick) 5:46
SHS - Ladarius Jones 3 run (Lawson kick) :50.6
NHS - Moloney 6 pass to Holley (Gettys kick) 9:13
SHS - Yex 43 pass to Jones (Lawson kick) 6:37
SHS - Lawson 32 field goal 8:49
RUSHING Spartanburg: Ladarius Jones 13-68, Jarel Long 9-24, Eric Rice 5-16, Romain Kelly 1-2, Damyjai Foster 1-2, William Yex 5-6. Northwestern: Jerry Howard 10-49, Dequez Harris 4-24, Gage Moloney 5-15.
PASSING Spartanburg: William Yex 61-39-0-426, Tomm Washington 1-1-0-32. Northwestern: Gage Moloney 25-13-0-142.
RECEIVING Spartanburg: Eric Rice 9-86, Romain Kelly 8-81, Damyjai Foster 7-62, Ladarius Jones 6-120, Josh Johnson 6-82, Tomm Washington 4-27. Northwestern: Jamario Holley 6-48, Wally Wilmore 4-77, Rodney Brown 2-15,Jerry Howard 1-2.
Records: Northwestern 4-1, Spartanburg 3-2