Goose Creek -- The Goose Creek Gators overcame a big hurdle on Friday, the defending champions, now turn their focus toward another obstacle - the state semifinals.
The Gators have been bounced there two years in a row and will get a third chance this week after dominating Northwestern 41-7 at John Fulmer Field in a Class AAAA playoff game.
The Gators rolled up 640 yards of total offense and kept Northwestern's air raid attack under control in improving to 12-1.
"This is a great win by our football team," Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy said. "Defensively, we didn't give up any real big plays. Offensively, we were very effective running the ball and we threw for over 200 yards tonight."
It sets up a semifinal matchup in Goose Creek next week against North Augusta, which advanced with a 46-20 victory over South Florence.
"They're 12-1," Reedy said. "They're as good as anybody in the state. We've got another very tough third-round matchup."
Northwestern defeated the Gators in the semis, 41-34, en route to the title last season.
But the Trojans, who ended with a record 8-5, didn't pack near the punch this time.
Northwestern quarterback Mason Rudolph was 33 of 53 for 219 yards with a pair of interceptions, including one Gators defensive end Gerald Turner snagged out of the air and returned 80 yards for a back-breaking score that made it 21-0 in the second quarter.
"We kept everything in front of us and tackled well," Reedy said.
"They're going to complete passes but we didn't give them any big plays and made them work for everything."
On the other side of the ball, Tramel Terry and Jaquan Marsh had monster games.
Terry scored on touchdown receptions of 39 and 41 yards from Marsh and also raced 51 yards for a score. Terry finished with 74 yards rushing and 141 receiving on four receptions.
Marsh ran for 132 yards and passed for 217 more, going 9 of 15 with one interception.
Fullback Virgil Smalls chipped in 95 yards rushing and scored on a pair of short runs for his 32nd and 33rd touchdowns of the season.
The score could have been worse. Two Gators drives ended inside Northwestern's 3.
"We're right where we need to be," Reedy said.
GC - Tramel Terry 39 pass from Jaquan Marsh (Masamitsu Ishibashi kick)
GC - Virgil Smalls 1 run (Ishibashi kick)
GC - Gerald Turner 80 interception return (Ishibashi kick)
NW - R. McClure 7 pass from Mason Rudolph (Sully kick)
GC - Smalls 3 run (Ishibashi kick)
GC - Terry 51 run (conversion failed)
GC - Terry 41 pass from Marsh (Ishibashi kick)