Facing a style of offense it rarely sees, North Augusta needed its defense to step up more than ever Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets shut down Beaufort’s rushing attack to win, 23-10, and advance in the Class AAAA Division II playoffs.

North Augusta (12-1, 4-1 Region 5-AAAA) will play at Northwestern in the semifinals next week.

Yellow Jackets coach Dan Pippin said earlier in the week that his defense needed to play assignment football well to stifle Beaufort’s split backs-style rushing attack.

The Yellow Jackets held the Eagles to 235 total yards, including 133 on the ground. Beaufort managed just nine first downs and failed to score an offensive touchdown.

“The defense was lights out tonight,” Pippin said. “They did a great job. We had a great plan and they executed it. We had two starters out, so a lot of guys stepped up and made plays.”

One big play came in the third quarter when D.J. Young intercepted Beaufort’s Ben Vaigneur in North Augusta territory, which set up a Yellow Jackets touchdown for a 23-3 lead.

“We played our assignments tonight,” Young said. “As long as we keep playing the same, I’m confident in what we can do.”

North Augusta’s Willie McCloud rushed 27 times for 199 yards, putting the offense on his back in the absence of Dashawn Barnes.

Junior quarterback Trib Reece went 23 for 35 for 191 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jaleel Bryant. Reece distributed the ball to five receivers, and Dre Dunbar led with eight catches for 60 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Yellow Jackets’ Blake Busby kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead to begin the second.

The game’s first touchdown came late in the second on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Reece to Bryant for a 9-0 North Augusta lead.

After Beaufort’s Brady Cormier kicked a field goal early in the third, North Augusta answered with consecutive touchdown passes by Reece to inch away.

The Eagles (9-4, 3-2 Region 8-AAAA) scored their lone touchdown on a 99-yard interception return by Mitchell Nestler in the fourth.

Beaufort 0 0 3 7 – 10

N. Augusta 0 9 14 0 – 23

NA–Blake Busby 20 FG

NA–Jaleel Bryant 15 pass from Trib Reece (kick failed)

B–Brady Cormier 29 field goal

NA–Antaun Andrews 5 pass from Reece (Busby kick)

NA–Bryant 3 pass from Reece (Busby kick)

B–Mitchell Nestler 99 interception return (Cormier kick)