But Trojans quarterback Justin Worley completed 16 of 17 passes on his team's first two second-half possessions and reclaimed the momentum with a pair of quick touchdowns to run away with a 42-14 victory.
Worley, who has already committed to the University of Tennessee, completed 39 of 49 passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns.
"We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We had some chances there in the first half that we wish would have gone our way," Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace said. "But the second half I thought was a total team effort. The opening drive of the third quarter was obviously huge. Justin played well."
North Augusta (5-1) hoped to make a statement by squaring off against the powerhouse program from Rock Hill. But the problems rose on offense.
Quarterback Loranzo Hammonds, in his second game back from a shoulder injury, wasn't on the same page with his receivers at times. He completed 21 of 32 passes and threw one touchdown and one interception.
Northwestern rushed only three down linemen for most of the game but still managed to hold Hammonds under 100 yards rushing. The extra scrambling and a few untimely dropped passes resulted in the senior quarterback's worst completion rate of the season.
"Offensively we were out of sync a little bit, but we'll get it back," North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said.
"I think everybody missing time (injuries) is a little bit a part of (the problem) right now."
What was expected to be an offensive shootout between two teams averaging more than 33 points per game turned into a defensive stalemate in the first half. Northwestern (6-0) drove inside the 20 three times in the second quarter, but the Yellow Jackets stopped them twice to keep the game close.
North Augusta turned the ball over twice in the first half and had a blocked punt. Tailback DeMarcus Rouse gave the Yellow Jackets their only score of the first half on an 18-yard run to tie the game at 7.
Hammonds found DeVontez Rouse from 18 yards out on the team's first possession of the second half for the Yellow Jackets' only other score.
After taking a 35-14 lead late in the fourth quarter, Northwestern recovered a short pooch kick and threw two deep passes on the next possession to score quickly for a 28-point win.