ROCK HILL Northwestern’s defense is eating well on Monday.
The No. 1-ranked Trojans shut out South Pointe 27-0 Friday night, the first defensive goose egg in the brief series between the two crosstown rivals, to improve to 6-0 on the season.
The sterling defensive effort against a South Pointe team reeling from the loss of its starting quarterback Tay Blake, who was arrested earlier in the week and suspended from the team, will result in a mess of pizza and chicken wings being consumed next week.
“I told them on Wednesday, ‘shut ’em out boys and we’re eating on Monday,’” Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson said afterward. “We’re eating on Monday. A little Northwestern old school tradition.”
The Trojans (6-0, 2-0) built a 13-0 halftime lead, then buried the host Stallions (4-2, 1-1) in the fourth quarter with two more touchdowns.
Senior defensive back Jaquavious Mackey made one of the Trojans’ two interceptions on South Pointe rookie starting QB Zaylin Burris, and also returned a punt 40 yards in the fourth quarter that set up Mason Rudolph’s second 1-yard touchdown run of the game, all but killing off the contest late.
Richardson and Mackey reiterated that there was only ever one focus for the Trojan camp in the run-up to the game.
“We just came out and played our game like we was coached to do, and how we practiced all week,” said Mackey. “We didn’t care about the quarterback.”
Richardson: “I challenged our defense – don’t get caught up in all the turmoil and distractions, because at the end of the day, there’s a football game on Friday and the focus, bottom line, is on Northwestern.”
Burris, a sophomore, was solid in his first start in place of Blake, completing 15 of 27 passes, but he was intercepted twice and only threw for 74 yards.
Stud Stallion receiver Anthony Johnson, who entered the game with seven touchdowns and a 30-yard-per-catch average, was held to four grabs for just 35 yards and five carries for 20 more yards on direct snaps. South Pointe as a team was limited to just 190 yards of offense.
“Defense just stepped up to the plate,” Richardson said.
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