NORTH AUGUSTA - A group of North Augusta kids approached Northwestern quarterback Justin Worley after Friday’s Class 4A showdown on Friday.
"You’re a beast, man," one of the youngsters shouted.
Worley played like one.
The senior quarterback completed 21-of-23 passes in the second half en route to four touchdown drives. That was more than enough for second-ranked Northwestern (6-0) to pull away for a 42-14 victory against No. 5 North Augusta (5-1).
Worley finished 39-of-50 for 424 yards and four touchdowns, but he had help.
Robert Joseph scored two second-half touchdowns and finished with 10 catches for 151 yards. LaThomas Long tallied 124 yards (41 rush, 83 receiving) and two touchdowns, and B.J. Boyd added two touchdowns.
The Trojans outscored the Yellow Jackets 28-7 in the second half.
"I thought the second half was a total team effort," Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace said. "It was a great effort on offense and a great effort on defense in a tough environment."
The Trojans opened the scoring in the first quarter. Worley connected with Joseph, who slipped behind coverage with a double move, for a 56-yard gain to the North Augusta 3-yard line. Long plunged in on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets tied the score after a seven-play, 70-yard drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown by running back DeMarcus Rouse with 11:28 to go in the half.
The teams traded possessions before North Augusta committed a special teams gaffe. Bad protection allowed Northwestern’s Devonta Gibson to block a punt, which the Trojans recovered at the Yellow Jackets’ 25-yard line.
Worley hit Long for a 22-yard screen on the next play, then found Boyd for a 3-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Worley was 18-of-27 for 230 yards in the first half, but the Yellow Jackets remained one score behind. Northwestern also failed to capitalize on two North Augusta turnovers. Worley said that was a focus at halftime.
"We knew we missed some opportunities in the first half," Worley said. "We had receivers open all night, and we knew that if we could come out and score on the opening drive, it would help us down the road."
The Trojans did just that and marched 84 yards to open the second half. Worley completed 10-of-11 passes and hit six different receivers before hitting Boyd from 6-yards out to finish the drive.
North Augusta countered with another scoring drive, but Northwestern stretched the lead back to 28-14. Worley rattled off six more completions, the last a 7-yard score to Joseph.
In the fourth quarter, Worley put the game away with a 36-yard scoring pass to Joseph with 3:46 to go. Long added the final margin with a 26-yard touchdown run after a Yellow Jackets’ fumble on the next possession.
"Coming down here, we had heard their coach called it their ‘Super Bowl,’" Worley said. "For us to come down here, play our offense and our system and not worry about distractions was huge."
First Quarter NW - Long 3 run (Madox kick) Second Quarter NA - Rouse 9 run (Mitch Redd kick) NW - Boyd 3 pass from Worley (Madox kick) Third Quarter NW - Boyd 6 pass from Worley (Madox kick) NA - Rouse 19 pass from Hammonds (Redd kick) NW - Joseph 7 pass from Worley (Madox kick) Fourth Quarter NW - Joseph 36 pass from Worley (Madox kick) NW - Long 26 run (James Smith kick)
RUSHING - Northwestern: Long 8-41, Devonta Gibson 1-(-6), Worley 8-(-12), Joseph 1-0. North Augusta: Loranzo Hammonds 15-100, DeMarcus Rouse 12-44, Vinny Miller 1-5
PASSING - Northwestern: Worley 39-50-0, 424 yards. North Augusta: Hammonds 21-32-1, 177 yards
RECEIVING - Northwestern: Robert Joseph 10-151, Stewart Hunt 5-59, Long 6-83, Boyd 7-43, Rontavious McClure 6-34, Delvieon McCleod 4-33, Devonta Gibson 1-21. North Augusta: DeMarcus Rouse 2-14, DeVontez Rouse 6-29, Montez McGuire 4-35, Jessie Pernell 4-48, Jordan Grantham 3-37, Tyrell Hillary 2-14.