The number-three ranked Northwestern Trojans forced five turnovers and scored at will Friday night as they defeated the fifth-ranked Gaffney Indians 46-2 in the first game on the new turf at The Reservation. It was also homecoming for the hosts and their first loss.
Northwestern (5-1) beat Spartanburg 35-31 last week but coaches and players weren’t happy with a second half performance that saw the Vikings nearly steal a win from the Trojans. The displeasure showed Friday night in Gaffney.
“After our performance against Spartanburg, we went back and put pencil to paper and our coaching staff burned the midnight oil and worked their tails off,” said Trojans coach David Pierce. “They put the work in and put the time in with our kids. And I think we had a better week of practice than we did for our Homecoming. And it showed on the field tonight.”
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Gaffney (4-1) had a chance to take the lead after getting a safety and a 49-yard kick return on the free kick. Dennis Smith then dropped two passes and D.J. Agurs picked off Tyshun Sarratt in the end zone to give the ball back to the Trojans up 7-2. Northwestern would never trail.
“I remember the 70s,” Pierce said afterward. “I'm an older coach. And I've played here on Friday nights as a player and I've coached here many times. So it was sort of a continuation of tradition with us. It means a lot because not many people can come to a town like this and have a chance to win a football game. So it's a big deal.”
The Trojans forced three first-half turnovers. Two of them thwarted the Indians inside the red zone and one was a fumbled punt return on the Gaffney 7. The Indians jump offsides five times and had one false start in the first half. They did it twice more in the second. They also only had one first down in the second half and seven for the game. They were penalized 13 times for 85 yards. Starting quarterback Tyshun Surratt took a pounding in the first half and only played one series in the second. Northwestern had scoring drives of twelve, nine, and seven plays in the first half.
Northwestern receivers Rodney Brown and Wally Wilmore played well. Brown had four catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns, while Wilmore had six catches for 86 yards and a score.
Trojans QB Gage Moloney was 26-for-42 for 314 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He also carried seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown.
“The guy's got a rifle for an arm and makes good decisions,” said Pierce, “and as an old defensive coach I like a guy that makes good decisions. I'm glad he's on our side.”
Northwestern will be at Fort Mill to open Region 3-5A play next week, while Gaffney will travel to play Rock Hill for a non-region contest.
Northwestern 46, Gaffney 2
NW - Rodney Brown 25 pass from Gage Moloney (Thomas Gettys kick), 7:53
GHS - Northwestern holding in the end zone, safety, 5:03
NW - Antonio Heath 9 run (Gettys kick), 9:14
NW - Gettys 19 kick, 4:55
NW - Moloney 7 run (Gettys kick), 1:23
NW - Wally Wilmore 6 pass from Moloney (Gettys kick), 4:45
NW - Brown 75 pass from Moloney (Gettys kick), 11:50
NW - Gaffney snap through the end zone. Safety, 8:05
NW - Trey Robinson 3 run (kick failed), 4:20