A pair of 1-yard rushing touchdowns in the third quarter by Northwestern senior running backs Nathan Noel and Andre Stringfield effectively ended Cardinal Gibbons’ 13-game winning streak.
The Bulls took advantage of the Chiefs’ miscues (three interceptions and a fumble recovery) for a 32-0 victory in the annual Dade vs. Broward season opener at Traz Powell Stadium on Friday.
Northwestern picked up where it left off following its state championship victory over Armwood for the Class 6A title game in 2018. The Bulls defense allowed only 48 yards against Armwood and only 35 against Gibbons on Friday.
“We love playing tough games coming out of the gate,” Northwestern coach Max Edwards said. “It helps build character at the beginning. That helps when you make that push toward the end of the season.
“Anytime you play for a championship, you rely on the defense. They need to handle the pressure when things don’t go our way.”
The loss also snapped the defending Class 5A champ’s streak on not being shutout at 50 games. The last time the Chiefs were held scoreless was 50-0 against American Heritage on Oct. 31, 2014.
Noel, who has 18 college offers, led all rushers with 84 yards on 13 carries. Freshman quarterback Taron Dickson, who entered the game in the second quarter — replacing starter Kemani Brown — was 6 of 8 for 87 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to Romello Brinson.
Two plays into Gibbons’ second possession proved to be an appetizer for Northwestern’s defense as Baron Grant picked off a Brody Palhegyi pass in the flat for a 4-yard interception return with 4:38 left in the first quarter.
It was a precursor of the Chiefs inability to move the ball against the Bulls defense.
Gibbons defense and nine first-half penalties for 76 yards by Northwestern kept the score at 6-0.
The second big mistake by the Chiefs in the first half resulted in a blocked punt that rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Bulls defensive end Wati Huggins for a touchdown. The PAT was good as Northeastern led 13-0 at the break.
Gibbons managed only 17 passing yards on five completions and 15 yards rushing in the opening half. Palhegyi had back-to-back picks in the first quarter
Northwestern (1-0) will played Carol City next Saturday, and Gibbons will host Miami Palmetto.