WOODRUFF, S.C. -- Nathaniel Mahoney couldn't think of a better way to open what he expects to be a memorable season for Silver Bluff.
The senior with a big-time college future and state championship dreams starred on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs in a 28-0 victory Friday night over perennial Class AA powerhouse Woodruff at W.L. Varner Stadium.
"We tried to come out with a lot of intensity and put them away early," said Mahoney, who rushed for 128 yards on 11 carries, including 119 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
"We slacked off a bit in the second half, and there's a lot of things we still need to work on. But this was a pretty good win for us. It was important to get started right."
The Bulldogs had the game in hand early thanks to big plays on offense. A 45-yard run by junior Marcus Jones on the Bulldogs second possession set up a Mahoney 4-yard score, and a 77-yard run for another score by Jones late in the first quarter set the tone. Mahoney added a 56-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to make it 21-0.
Though Silver Bluff totaled 270 yards of offense in the first half, it was the defense holding Woodruff to 77 yards of total offense that positioned the Bulldogs for the convincing road win.
"The goal for the defense was to put up a zero, and that's what we did," said the versatile Mahoney, who also plays defensive back and linebacker for the Bulldogs.
On defense, the Bulldogs successfully keyed on Wolverines tailback Cedric Johnson, who rushed for 1,250 yards as a junior last season. The senior Johnson managed just 47 yards on 19 carries.
"We relied on big plays on offense, but the defense really did a great job tonight," Silver Bluff coach Al Lown said. "We knew coming in that (Johnson) was a kid that could really run the football, and we felt we'd have a good chance if we could contain him."
The night, however, wasn't without its frustrations for the Silver Bluff offense and Mahoney, who fumbled twice and struggled running the ball in the second half.
But for a team coming off an 11-2 finish last season and at the outset of a brutal stretch of schedule beginning with tradition-rich Woodruff -- a program that has won 10 state championships, more than any other team in Class AA -- the win proved a successful launching point.
"We watched the film of the 1991 state championship game before we got on the bus today," said Mahoney, referring to Silver Bluff's 15-12 victory here over the Wolverines in 1991 for their second consecutive Class AA title. "I think that hyped us up because we all know that winning a state championship this year is a very realistic goal for this team."
Silver Bluff -- 14 7 0 7 -- 28
Woodruff -- 0 0 0 0 -- 0
SB -- Nathaniel Mahoney 4 run (Jason Hyer kick)
SB -- Marcus Jones 77 run (Hyer kick)
SB -- Mahoney 56 run (Hyer kick)
SB -- Jules Corley (Hyer kick)
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