Spartanburg’s offense is finding its way after early-season struggles, and showed it on Friday night against Northwestern.
Give the Vikings seven extra possessions on top of that, and you’re in for a long night.
The Vikings created seven turnovers, limited Northwestern to 169 passing yards and beat the Trojans 40-14 at Gibbs Stadium.
“Our kids are playing hard on defense,” Spartanburg coach Chris Miller said. “We talked about forcing turnovers, and they did a great job of that. We talk about ball-hawks all the times, and the guys were hitting hard and raking and trying to get the ball out.”
Spartanburg grabbed five interceptions and recovered two fumbles in the contest, effectively neutralizing any Northwestern offensive threat.
“You can’t win a ballgame with seven turnovers,” Northwestern coach David Pierce said. “Our defense did a good job of grinding it out, but we just couldn’t get the offense going.”
Trailing 20-0, Northwestern got its biggest play of the night on a 53-yard fake punt run by Jordan Starkes. Dequez Harris scored one play later to cut the lead to 20-7.
“Our kids are pretty confident that we can come back if we do things right,” Pierce said. “Down 20-7 we’ve got a little breath of life there if we do the right things, but Spartanburg’s a very good team and we made too many mistakes.”
The teams traded touchdowns later in the third, with Spartanburg scoring on Jarel Long’s one-yard run and Northwestern answering on a 53-yard pass from Dustin Noller to Ger-Cari Caldwell to make it 27-14 to start the fourth. But Spartanburg would salt it away, forcing three fourth-quarter turnovers and scoring on a Long’s 22-yard run and an 18-yard pass from Jax Cash to Damyjai Foster.
Spartanburg put up two quick scores in the first quarter for an early lead. On the Vikings’ first drive onf the night, Romain Kelly hauled in a 41-yard pass from Keonte Cartledge to put Spartanburg up 6-0, and Damyjai Foster added a two-yard score to put the Vikings in front 13-0. Reggie Anderson returned a second-quarter interception 25 yards for the Vikings’ 20-0 halftime advantage.
“The offense was running good. In the first half we were moving it and making mistakes at the end, but we were able to get it going in the end.”
Miller was pleased with the play of QB Keonte Cartledge, who had 206 yards passing and a touchdown on the night.
“He’s done a tremendous job of buying in to what we’re trying to teach him, and I think the game’s slowing down a little bit for him,” Miller said. “He’s got a great offensive line in front of him and great people around him.”
Spartanburg 40, Northwestern 14
Spartanburg;13;7;7;13 - 40
Northwestern;0;0;14;0 - 14
Spartanburg – Romain Kelly 41-yard pass from Keonte Cartledge (kick failed)
Spartanburg – Damyjai Foster 2-yard run (Parker Overlees kick)
Spartanburg – Reggie Anderson 25-yard interception return (Henry Bishop kick)
Northwestern – Dequez Harris 1-yard run (Thomas Gettys kick)
Spartanburg – Jarel Long 1-yard run (Henry Bishop kick)
Northwestern – Ger-Cari Caldwell 53-yard pass from Dustin Noller (Thomas Gettys kick)