It was the only blemish on an otherwise remarkable season.
Northwestern defeated Goose Creek, 41-34, last year in a Division II-AAAA state semifinal. Goose Creek fell to 13-1 and was sent to the sideline, while the Trojans went on to win the state championship the next week with a victory over Greenwood to finish 15-0.
Today, the two teams meet again in the second round of the playoffs. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Fulmer Field in Goose Creek. Goose Creek enters the game with a 12-1 record. Northwestern is 8-4.
Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy said the sequel isn't necessarily about revenge.
"Our kids just want to win," Reedy said. "Our players have been in the playoffs the last two years, so we're a veteran team. Our kids know they have to be prepared every week once the playoffs roll around. When you get in the playoffs, it's possibly a four-week season. We got Week 1 behind us. Now, we have to get past Week 2."
It's hard to imagine that tonight's tussle will come close to matching last year's excitement.
Goose Creek jumped to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, outgaining the Trojans 110-2 in yardage in the first 12 minutes of the game.
But Northwestern's "Air Raid" offense, under the direction of quarterback Justin Worley, didn't quit. With his team trailing by seven points in the third quarter, Worley let his legs do the work. He scored on a 6-yard run with 9:16 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 27, and added a 3-yard touchdown run with 8:20 left to give his team its first lead at 34-27. He threw a 6-yard touchdown pass with 4:46 left to make it a 14-point lead.
The Gators cut the lead to a touchdown when Caleb Kinlaw scored on a 15-yard run. The Gators had one last chance. With five seconds remaining, quarterback Jaquan Marsh completed a long pass to Tramel Terry, who leaped to make the catch at the 6-yard line. But two Trojans tacklers pulled him down and the Gators' dreams were dashed.
Kinlaw, Marsh and Terry are back for the Gators. Worley graduated and is the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers.
"They still have a lot of good players," Reedy said. "Any time you play them, you know it's going to be a tough game."
Sophomore Mason Randolph is the quarterback and directs the Trojans "Air Raid" attack. He's completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,389 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"He's kind of clone of Worley," Reedy said. "He's 6-foot-5, has a strong arm and all that stuff. They have some good running backs too."
The Trojans topped Richland Northeast, 24-14, in the first round, but it wasn't the passing attack that made the difference. Running back LaThomas Long gained 134 yards and ripped off an 87-yard run that was worth six points. Reserve running back A.J. McCoy chipped in with a 69-yard run.
Goose Creek cruised past Lancaster, 49-12, last week. Virgil Smalls led the way with 160 yards and four touchdowns. But the defense also played well. Lancaster managed only 205 yards, including 78 on a meaningless touchdown with 1:18 left in the game.