2017-11-13 / Sports

Fumbles sink Northwestern again in Gaffney playoff win

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By ALEX GUEST
Ledger Contributor

For the second straight year the Gaffney Indians have knocked the Northwestern Trojans out of the playoffs.

Gaffney entered Friday night's second-round playoff game on a mission of payback after falling to Northwestern in the regular season. They did just that, defeating the Trojans 21-10 to avenge that loss.

Gaffney is now 8-4 overall and riding a five game win streak into the third round of the playoffs.

The Indians opened up the game with a methodical 18 play, 80 yard drive, that took 7:37 off the clock and was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Quez Smith. The ensuing Northwestern possession ended in a fumble forced by Gaffney linebacker Shannon Rodgers and scooped up by noseguard Noah Owens.

Northwestern was able to score 10 unanswered points in the second quarter thanks to a 13-yard touchdown pass and a 39-yard field goal but the Indians defense held the Trojans in check for the remainder of the game.

Gaffney was able to capitalize on a second Northwestern fumble, this time on a wide receiver reverse, forced by Quez Smith and picked up by Rodney Smith. The next drive for the Indians took five plays to go 43 yards and capped off by an eight-yard scamper by Cameron Rice.

The final blow to Northwestern came late in the third quarter as Gaffney's Quez Smith turned on the jets and took the pigskin to the end zone on a 17 yard run out of the jumbo package.

Gaffney coach Dan Jones had high praise for the junior, "That young man is a football player. You don't have to coach him you just tell him where to go and he knows what to do. He's something special."

Smith finished the night offensively with five carries for 21 yards and two touchdowns. He added 8.5 tackles defensively as well as a forced fumble and two pass breakups.

The Indians defense held Northwestern to only 65 yards rushing and just 168 through the air.

Gaffney offensively was able to move the ball, picking up 116 rushing yards and 167 passing. It is worth noting that Gaffney sophomore running back Kelvin Kirby broke 1,000 yards rushing for the season.

Gaffney will again be on the road in round three of playoff action Friday night as they visit the Hillcrest Rams in a rematch of the week 4 contest in which Gaffney won, 42-7.

However, Jones isn't letting his squad take Hillcrest lightly this week.

"Hillcrest has a good football team and for them to beat Spartanburg tells you they aren't the same team they were earlier in the season,” Jones said. “We're a little bit different team than what Northwestern saw six weeks ago too. We gotta play our best football. If we want a chance to play in the semifinals then we really gotta play well."

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