The Northwestern Trojans overcame a 20-point rally from the Nation Ford Falcons thanks in part to a fourth quarter touchdown with about nine minutes left in the game to pull out a 21-20 win.
Northwestern (2-5, 2-0 Region 3-5A) picked up its first win of the season last week against Clover and had a lot of momentum playing at home for the second straight season against Nation Ford, which picked up its first ever win over the Trojans last season. For the second year in a row, the Falcons and Trojans played a close ball game, but Northwestern won this year’s matchup.
“I don’t think we played Nation Ford football,” said Falcons’ head coach Michael Allen. “I feel we played complacent in the first half. Later in the game our effort was good enough to win.”
The Trojans got the opening kickoff and took the ball on their first drive running it straight at Nation Ford. Northwestern kept the ball on the ground for the most part, but Trojans’ quarterback Dustin Noller threw the ball when he had too. The drive was capped off by a four yard touchdown run from former Nation Ford player, G’hari Page, to put Northwestern up early ending a 80-yard, 14-play drive.
Nation Ford’s first drive was just as strong with them going to the pass more on little short routes that allowed the Falcons to just chip away at Northwestern, but after crossing midfield ended up punting the ball after their drive stalled.
Northwestern was led by running back Antonio Heath on their second drive of the game including a big 28-yard run to get the Trojans into the red zone. Heath would end the 96-yard drive that spanned two quarters with a 10-yard touchdown run. The score put the Trojans up by two scores and clearly give them the edge over Nation Ford.
A fumble on a punt by Northwestern in the second quarter gave the Falcons the ball at the 10-yard line where quarterback Wayde Prince would run the ball in on the first play of scrimmage to put Nation Ford on the scoreboard and get them back in the game.
Nation Ford scored early in the fourth quarter to take a 20-14 lead, but Northwestern crucially blocked the extra point. The Trojans took the lead barely a minute later on an 11-yard TD pass from Noller to Jamario Holley, and Nick Acus hit the extra point for what was ultimately the decisive point.
Northwestern’s clock domination was critical in the game. The Trojans had two long drives in the first half with the first one going 14 plays and the second one going 12 plays with Northwestern scorning on both drives. These long runs ate time off the clock and kept the Trojans’ offense on the field, while the Nation Ford offense could do nothing but watch.
Heath rushed for 120 yards for Northwestern and Page added another 49 yards on the ground as well for the Trojans. Nation Ford was led by Mahaffey who rushed for 117 yards and Tuipulotu caught eight passes for 39 yards.
Nation Ford will be coming back to District III Stadium to play Rock Hill next Friday in a key region game for both schools. Northwestern will be crossing the Catawba River to head to Bob Jones Stadium to play Fort Mill.
Nation Ford 0;7;7;6;-;20
NW - G’hari Page 4 run (Nick Acus kick), 7:28
NW - Antonio Heath 10 run (Acus kick), 9:52
NF - Wayde Prince 10 run (Quinn Castner kick), 7:01
NF - Nathan Mahaffey five run (Castner kick), 7:27
NF- Mahaffey 10 pass from Prince (kick blocked), 9:53
NW - Jamario Holley 11 pass from Dustin Noller (Acus kick), 8:42
First downs 17;16
Passing yards 120;137
Fumbles/lost 3-1; 1-1
RUSHING Nation Ford: Wayde Prince 8-(-8), Nathan Mahaffey 26-117, Dewuan McCullum 1-1, Tyler Nelson 1-(-8), Team 1-(-1). Northwestern: Antonio Heath 22-120, G’hari Page 11-49, Jamaar Moore 1-7, Jamario Holley 3-(-17), Marquez Cherry 2-9, Dustin Noller 3-(-2).
PASSING Nation Ford: Prince 16-23-0 97, Nelson 4-5-0 23. Northwestern: Noller 9-15-0 137.
RECEIVING Nation Ford: McCullum 6-33, Mahaffey 2-15, Quinton Jackson 3-24, Petey Tuipulotu 8-39, Kaleb Starnes 1-9. Northwestern: Moore 4-34, Heath 1-13, Holley 2-18, Gregory Bivens 2-72.
RECORDS Nation Ford 4-4, 2-1 Region 3-5A; Northwestern 2-5, 2-0 Region 3-5A.