Then the Trojans turned it up a notch.
The nationally-ranked Northwestern team scored 16 points in the final 3:39 of the first quarter, and rolled to a 65-7 victory Friday night at the Stomping Grounds.
Highly touted quarterback Mason Rudolph, who has already committed to play at Oklahoma State, threw three touchdown passes to Dupree Hart in the second quarter as Northwestern (3-0) opened up a 36-0 lead at halftime.
A week after battling Greenwood in a close loss, South Aiken (1-2) couldn’t sustain the success of its opening drive.
The Thoroughbreds imploded late in the first quarter to break open a close game at that point. South Aiken was called for a chop block while punting from its own end zone, which resulted in an automatic safety.
Then, on the ensuing kick, Jaquavious Mackey returned it 84 yards for a score and 16-0 lead.
“We never regained our composure,” South Aiken coach Jeremy West said.
South Aiken was missing a few key players, including junior defensive end Rasool Clemons.
He did not dress out after suffering an elbow injury, but West expects him to be back in action next week.
In the second half, Rudolph played one series and drove the Trojans 70 yards in just six plays to take a 43-0 lead.
Northwestern substituted liberally at that point, and its backups were equally effective.
South Aiken ended its scoring drought when Adam Allen broke a big run and then scored from 2 yards out.
South Aiken was hampered by several penalties, including numerous holding calls.
“We really stopped ourselves on offense,” West said. “Every time we got a big run there was laundry on the field. We never could get in a rhythm.”