In front of a postseason home crowd for the first time in seven years, just about each one of North Augusta's stars took their turn in the spotlight Friday in a 42-21 victory over Conway.
The Class AAAA state playoff win saw defensive stars Cam Alston, Dillon Temples and L.J. Perry each pick off passes to help shut out the visiting Tigers with North Augusta's starting defense on the field.
Receivers Matt Hazel and Jessie Pernell combined for eight receptions for 118 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Loranzo Hammonds. Tailback Demarcus Rouse added 186 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
"It's that balanced attack that makes us successful," Rouse said. "When the passing game does what it does tonight, it takes the pressure off the running game, and then we do the same for them."
The balanced effort, which emerged early with a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown in the first three minutes, was more than enough to advance the Yellow Jackets (11-1) to the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament. North Augusta's two-touchdown lead grew to 35-0 by halftime and ballooned to 42-0 with Rouse's 48-yard run up the middle midway through the third quarter.
"He's a great talent," North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said. "We've had a 100-yard rusher now for the past several games, and when you can do that, it gives you a good chance of winning."
The Yellow Jackets didn't give up points until the first-string defense came out with 5:39 left in the third quarter. Conway left its starting offense in and scored on three of its next four possessions, but North Augusta's offense, which converted 16 first downs, provided more than enough points.
Hazel, who caught two first-half touchdowns in the victory, was helped off the field early in the third quarter with an injured ankle and didn't return. The area's leading wide receiver, who spent the rest of the game barefoot and seated on a bench, icing his ankle, said it was only a minor injury and won't cause him to miss any practice or playing time.