AIKEN — Even when Aiken is having an off year, getting a “W” against the Hornets is a big deal to North Augusta and its coaching staff.
The Yellow Jackets broke open a close game with 21 points in the second quarter, and cruised to a 55-13 victory at Hagood Stadium on Friday night.
North Augusta coach Dan Pippin, who never beat Aiken when he coached at South Aiken, has now won five in a row against the Region 5-AAAA rivals.
“This is still a tough place to play,” Pippin said. “I told Coach (Brian) Neal that I think they’ve continually gotten better through the year, but this is still Aiken High to me. It’s still a big deal to me and my coaching staff.”
The victory sets up a region showdown between North Augusta and Dutch Fork next week. The Yellow Jackets can potentially win the region on their home field.
Against the Hornets, North Augusta (9-1, 3-1 region) looked as if it was going to run away early on a rainy night with two quick scores.
But Aiken (1-9, 0-4) responded with a 60-yard touchdown dash by Nakeem Spann.
The teams then went nearly eight minutes without scoring, but the Yellow Jackets got on the board in the second quarter with a 2-yard run by Ronald Williams.
After holding the Hornets on their next possession, North Augusta’s Kyle Saverance blocked Aiken’s punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
North Augusta got the ball back with under two minutes to go in the first half, and quarterback Trib Reece connected on four consecutive passes as the Yellow Jackets drove 58 yards to take a 35-7 lead.
North Augusta used short fields to score touchdowns on its first three possessions of the second half. Willie McCloud caught a 20-yard touchdown pass on the Yellow Jackets’ first play from scrimmage, then DaShawn Barnes scored on a 24-yard run to cap a three-play drive on their next possession.
McCloud added a 9-yard run to close out a 36-yard drive.
Aiken was led by Spann’s 96 yards rushing. Hornets quarterback Caleb Heath did not play the second half after injuring his throwing shoulder.
Despite the win, Pippin said his team needs to improve if it is going to beat Dutch Fork and win the region.
“Defensively we played real well,” he said. “Offensively, I thought we could have played better.”