ROCK HILL – Northwestern took the field against Rock Hill at District 3 Stadium Friday having won eight of nine in what is dubbed “The Original Rivalry.” The Trojans looked to take the WRHI city championship trophy this week, before competing for a Region 3-4A championship on this same field next week.
Trojan quarterback Gage Moloney threw for 261 yards and three scores, with Jordan Starkes catching two of those touchdowns and going for 125 yards in a 49-13 victory over crosstown rival Rock Hill.
“It’s always good to beat your rival,” said Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson after the game. “[I’m] really proud of the offense, defense, and special teams. The coaches put together a great plan. Nobody was overlooking this week, and now we can officially move on to the last game of the region against Gaffney.”
The Trojans came out of the gate strong, punching in a Dequez Harris touchdown run from a yard out after an interception of the game’s opening pass. After a missed 26-yard field goal try by the Trojans on their next possession, Richardson’s powerful offense went to work. Northwestern scored on four consecutive possessions, despite allowing a 94-yard touchdown throw from Rock Hill’s Dre Robinson to John McCullough. Northwestern took a 35-7 lead to the halftime break.
Northwestern’s Jerry Howard scored his second rushing touchdown of the night on the third quarter’s opening drive, stretching the lead to 42-7. Reserve quarterback Will Hagood added a six-yard score to freshman wideout Jamario Holley to cap the Trojans’ scoring.
Rock Hill’s Kadarrius Baxter plunged in from a yard away with three minutes remaining to cap a 40-yard drive on the next-to-last Bearcat possession.
Northwestern turned an interception at the Rock Hill 6 into a first-possession touchdown. After the Trojans missed a 26-yard field goal attempt on their next possession, Rock Hill’s ensuing possession ended in a punt. Northwestern got a 19-yard touchdown toss from Moloney to Starkes, marking the first of the aforementioned four consecutive scoring drives.
“To crush the momentum coming off the kickoff [with the interception] and all that […] at that point, it’s a 0-0 game, and we get that play,” said Richardson. “That was huge. For the offense to put it in, it just kind of started that momentum run for us, which both sides [offense and defense] started feeding off of.”
Rock Hill was already down a quarterback coming into tonight’s game, due to a Brandon Banks injury.
Reserve Dre Robinson suffered an undisclosed injury in the first half, and sophomore third-stringer Trevor Pearson was reportedly unable to play due to the state’s eight-quarter rule. This left the Bearcats to largely rely on running back Des Buchanan and fourth-stringer Jared Tucker to shoulder the load under center. The pair attempted just two passes, completing one for two yards.
“We went out there, and after that first drive [of the second half], we put some guys in, and that was fresh for them,” said Richardson. “They were excited to get after it.”
Moloney turned in the latest in a string of stellar performances, connecting on 26-of-31 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns went to Starkes, who caught seven passes for 125 yards. Howard carried 12 times for 92 yards and two additional scores.
The Trojan defense turned in a lockdown effort, allowing Rock Hill just 167 yards of total offense and six first downs. Just 55 of those yards came against Northwestern’s vaunted run defense on 24 carries.
Northwestern welcomes Gaffney to District 3 Stadium next week in a matchup to decide the Region 3-4A crown. Richardson planned a short celebration for his team before getting back to work on next week’s foe.
“We’re going to celebrate this one for 24 hours, take that city championship trophy back to the house and get ready for Gaffney.”
Northwestern 49, Rock Hill 13
N - Dequez Harris 1 run (kick failed) 10:28
N – Gage Moloney 19 pass to Jordan Starkes (Moloney pass to Holley) 3:39
RH – Dre Robinson 94 pass to John McCullough (Hudson Gray kick) 3:21
N – Moloney 15 pass to Julian Shockley (Thomas Gettys kick) 11:53
N – Howard 50 run (Gettys kick) 8:14
N – Moloney 4 pass to Starkes (Gettys kick) 6:11
N – Howard 5 run (Gettys kick) 7:50
N – Will Hagood 6 pass to Jamario Holley (Karrington Prioleau kick) 3:59
RH – Kadarius Baxter 1 run (kick failed) 3:00
RUSHING: Northwestern: Dequez Harris 4-7; Jerry Howard 12-92; Gage Moloney 5-(minus) 10; Brandon Ashley 2-1; Malik Hinton 1-0; Will Hagood 1-(minus) 8. Rock Hill: Dre Robinson 4-5; Tim Sherer 4-6; Desmond Buchanan 11-45; Jared Tucker 1-1; Kadarrius Baxter 3-8; Zhenya Deller 1-(minus) 9.
PASSING: Northwestern: Gage Moloney 26-31-0-261 yards; Will Hagood 2-5-0-7 yards. Rock Hill: Dre Robinson 5-10-1-110 yards; Jared Tucker 1-2-1-2 yards.
RECEIVING: Northwestern: Jerry Howard 6-35; Logan Rudolph 1-4; Julian Shockley 2-30; Jordan Starkes 7-125; Cory McCoy 1-3; Jamario Holley 8-57; Dequez Harris 2-14; Rodney Brown 1-5. Rock Hill: Jared Tucker 1-5; John McCullough 3-95; Tim Sherer 1-5; Cam Long 1-7.
RECORDS: Northwestern 9-1 (5-0 Region 3-4A); Rock Hill 2-8 (1-4).
On deck: Northwestern hosts Gaffney to close the regular season next Friday; Rock Hill travels to Nation Ford.