ROCK HILL, S.C. — Northwestern football fans headed to Columbia for the South Carolina-Clemson tilt will have to make plans for a return the following Saturday after the Trojans cruised past North Augusta 49-21 on Friday night and into the Class AAAA Division II state championship.
The Trojans (14-0) will face Stratford at noon at Williams-Brice Stadium on Dec. 7, after the Knights dropped South Pointe 36-13 down in Goose Creek. Northwestern will seek redemption for last season’s overtime loss in the state title game to Greenwood. That’s something they’ve thought about for nearly a year.
The focus Friday night at District 3 Stadium was on another dominant performance that kept Northwestern undefeated.
Junior Dupree Hart had 251 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, and broke NFL star A.J. Green’s state record for career receptions (279).
Northwestern’s defense surrendered a handful of big plays to the Yellow Jackets (12-2), but also created four turnovers and took advantage of a bad punt snap deep in the North Augusta end.
Twice Trojan defensive backs were beaten for long passes downfield by Trib Reece’s arm, and twice senior safety Corey Seargent stripped the receivers for fumbles that were recovered by Northwestern.
“I don’t if we do anything... if we don’t cough it up... that’s the best football team in the state,” North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said. “The game was going to be closer obviously if we don’t, but they’re great.”
WASHINGTON COUNTY 46, BLESSED TRINITY 17
In Roswell, Ga., Melvin Hill ran for 235 yards and five touchdowns and D.J. Sanders picked off four passes as Washington County pulled away for a victory over Blessed Trinity in a Class AAA quarterfinal.
The Golden Hawks improved to 12-0 while Blessed Trinity’s season ended at 9-4.
“They’re a talented football team,” Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin said. “And you just can’t make mistakes against somebody like that. I felt like they played a good game. I felt like we played a good game. I think it’s pretty obvious we may not be quite as talented.”
Blessed Trinity had no answer for Sanders.
“He’s a player,” said Washington County coach Joel Ingram.
But the Titans gave Washington County a first half to think about.
“We knew it was going to be like this,” Washington County head coach Joel Ingram said. “They’rea well-coached football team, and they were gonna have a scheme for our blitzing.
“We adjusted and settled in.”
Blessed Trinity scored on its first possession of the third quarter to pull within two, eating up nearly five minutes.
Washington County was ready to put it away, and answered with a 9-play, 56-yard scoring drive. Then Sanders picked off a pass, and the Golden Hawks converted a fourth-and-2 to set up Hill’s 22-yard run, and it was 32-17 with 1:18 left in the third.
Another Sanders interception set up a short drive and a 19-yard bouncing-and-spinning Hill score less than two minutes into the fourth. He added a 43-yarder with 2:40 to go in the game.
Blessed Trinity held Washington County to seven on fourth-and-8 on the Golden Hawks’ first drive, but the Titans gave it back two plays later on Sanders’ sure-handed interception.
Three plays covered 69 yards, Hill going the final 26 and breaking a tackle at the 20.
The Titans responded with a 44-yard field goal, and forced a punt from the Washington County side of the field. Then they came up with a quality 11-play, 87-yard drive during which they converted two third-and-longs, including the final play when Colin Bradley got the ball on a misdirection and went in from 13 out on third-and-goal.
That put the Titans up 10-7 with 9:19 left in the half, the first time in a long time that the Golden Hawks had trailed.
Ingram said he thought that was his team’s first deficit since the overtime win over Lovett.
It didn’t last long.
Washington County got a nice kickoff return by Hill and went 48 yards in six plays, Hill going right and keeping his balance for a 24-yard score. But the Golden Hawks missed the kick, and led 13-0 with 6:57 remaining.
The Golden Hawks survived a pair of 5-yard penalties with big plays on their next drive, Gray passing to Sanders on the left side. The senior left his defender on the ground for a 38-yard touchdown, but the conversion again failed, giving Washington County a 19-10 lead at the 3:53 mark of the first half.
The hosts got a break on a Gray overthrow that was picked off by Ryan Mediate with 1:55 left, but the Titans couldn’t get into field goal range.
Minutes into the second half, the Golden Hawks grabbed control.
“We gave some things away we shouldn’t have,” McFarlin said, noting a few passes that barely missed for big plays. “When you’re playing a team that’s that athletic, you can’t miss those shots.”