North Augusta’s senior stars made sure their perfect record against Lakeside remained intact.
Landon Washington threw a pair of long touchdowns to Dejuan Bell and Derius Gibson, while Kashaun Johnson returned a punt 66 yards a touchdown and ran 30 for another as the Yellowjackets raced to big halftime lead and cruised 37-0 at Lakeside on Friday night.
It’s the fourth consecutive year that the out-of-state foes have met in the season-opening game for both schools, and North Augusta has won seven consecutive games after losing the first matchup against their opponent from across the river in 2000.
“We came out here and dominated like we planned on doing and had fun,” said Washington, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than half the game.
North Augusta’s defense dominated, as Lakeside failed to gain a first down on nine of 10 possessions and was held to 43 total yards.
“Defense played fast and flew to the football and everybody we put in there got after it,” said North Augusta coach Brian Thomas.
“It’s simple, when you can’t run the football, you’re going to have a lot of problems,” said Lakeside coach Steve Hibbitts. “But these guys battled and that’s just a good team.”
Lakeside did little to stop North Augusta’s offense in a first half that could have been worse than 30-0 if Bell hadn’t lost a pair of fumbles and the Yellowjackets had a late touchdown nullified by a penalty before missing a 32-yard field.
Gibson opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown as North Augusta took advantage of a short field with a 31-yard drive.
That’s when the big plays started piling up for the Yellowjackets. Washington hit Bell wide open behind defenders Tony Jenkins and Justin Franklin for a 59-yard strike and a 14-0 lead.
After Lakeside failed to take advantage of a recovered fumble at the North Augusta 37, the Yellowjackets hit again on the second play of the second quarter when Washington found Gibson uncovered on the left sideline for a 55-yard score.
Just more than a minute later, Johnson burst loose up the right sideline for a 66-yard punt return and a 27-0 lead. Parker Baxley converted one of two 32-yard field goal attempts in the closing minutes for a 30-0 halftime lead.
“We made some big plays and did some things good and did some other things we need to work on, which is good,” said Thomas.
Lakeside failed to make a first down in seven of its eight first-half possessions as the Panthers fell too far behind. North Augusta finished with 19 first downs and 443 total offensive yards to Lakeside’s 43.
Johnson’s speed was on display in another 30-yard touchdown keeper when he played quarterback most of the second half. North Augusta never punted and took a knee on the game’s final play at the Lakeside 2.
Yellow Jackets (1-0) went 7-5 last year and reached the second round of South Carolina’s Class AAAA playoffs. The Panthers (0-1) were 3-8 with a first-round exit in Georgia’s Class AAAAAA playoffs.
North Augusta won last year’s meeting 41-16 and has outscored Lakeside 254-116 in the eight career meetings between the two schools. The only time Lakeside has beaten North Augusta was in their first encounters in 2000, with the Panthers winning 21-20 on the road.