ROCK HILL — Annoyed. Ticked off. Motivated.
Any of these would have captured the mood around the South Pointe football program prior to Friday night’s 63-3 beating of the Nation Ford Falcons. After a trying prior week in which the team’s starting quarterback was arrested and the team was shutout 27-0 by rivals Northwestern, Strait Herron’s crew needed to get right. Boy, did they.
“Since we’ve been so disrespected, I feel pretty good about where we are right now,” Herron said, without elaborating. “We’ve just got to keep working.”
The Stallions (5-2, 2-1 in Region 3) raced out to a 42-0 halftime advantage behind an irrepressible pass rush en route to its second win in Region 3 play. The visitors held Nation Ford (5-2, 2-1) to negative-24 yards rushing, and sacked Falcon quarterbacks Dalton Helms and Cole Martin six times, unofficially.
“This was the first game of the playoffs for us,” said linebacker Josh Massey. “After that tough one, we knew it all had to restart week by week.”
Massey was particularly sensational. The senior finished with three sacks, a forced fumble that led to a Stallion touchdown and an interception that he returned 65 yards for a TD, all in the first half. Boston College assistant coaches were in the stands watching South Pointe stud Zeek Rodney, but they very well may have left with another name on their notepad, Massey’s.
Nation Ford turned the ball over a combined nine times in its last two losses to South Pointe, both lopsided defeats, and they continued that trend Friday night, giving the football away four times. The Stallions ruthlessly took advantage, scoring touchdowns off the Falcons’ two fumbles and two interceptions.
“We just did not want to let him get comfortable,” Massey said, referring to Helms. “Anything but that. He’s a great quarterback, if he gets comfortable he has the chance to pick us apart, so we just sent some pressure on him.”
The game was over by halftime.
In Nation Ford’s 10 first-half possessions, they punted on six, turned it over on three and the clock ran out on the last. Massey led an insatiable assault on Helms, sacking the senior QB three times and forcing a fumble on his first, which Rodney recovered. That set up Zaylin Burris for a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter, after Anthony Johnson had earlier returned a punt 85 yards for a score.
The teams traded punts early in the second quarter before another Massey sack forced a Falcons’ punt that South Pointe turned into six more points on a 94-yard drive. A 36-yard run by Josh Brice and a 47-yard bomb from Zaylin Burris to Deshawn Davis got the Stallions down to the Falcons’ 1-yard line where Brice finished off the march with a touchdown plunge.
Nation Ford was forced to punt again and a 58-yard return by Johnson set the Stallions up nicely again at the Falcon 22. Three plays later Burris found a wide open Kyle Brandt at the goal line and the senior receiver made an incredible catch, laying out horizontally and cupping the ball in his outstretched left arm for the touchdown to make it 28-0 for the visitors.
Herron’s team effectively killed off the contest in the last 3 minutes of the half. First, Massey ended a promising Nation Ford drive with an interception at the South Pointe 35 that he took the other way for a touchdown. Then Nation Ford sent a snap over Helms’ head and into the end zone where Marveon Mobley fell on the loose pigskin for another defensive touchdown with just over a minute left in the first half.
42-0 South Pointe. Doors blown off, and just what the Stallions needed. It was an uplifting night for a program that seems to thrive with its back against the wall.
“We just wanted to let everybody know we’ve been facing adversity all year. The thing we rely on is keep going,” Massey said. “Just don’t let up.”
South Pointe 63, Nation Ford 3
SP – Anthony Johnson 84 punt return (Kyle Dix kick)
SP – Zaylin Burris 12 run (Dix kick)
SP – Josh Brice 1 run (Dix kick)
SP – Kyle Brandt 17 pass from Zaylin Burris (Dix kick)
SP – Josh Massey 65 interception return (Dix kick)
SP – Marveon Mobley fumble recovery in end zone (Dix kick)
SP – Anthony Johnson 65 pass from Burris (Dix kick)
SP – Devion Williams 5 run (Dix kick)
SP – Quay Hope 3 run (Dix kick)
NF – Caleb Bruckner 20 yard field goal
RUSHING SP: Zaylin Burris 4-39; Josh Brice 13-59; Vinny Emmanuele 2-7; Devion Williams 4-37; Bree Minor 5-61; Quay Hope 1-3. NF: Marques Coleman 8-13; Dalton Helms 6-(-26); Andrew Bruce 1-(-2); Spencer Pecarro 1-(-7); Cole Martin 2-(-4); Keyshawn McClure 3-2.
PASSING SP: Burris 6-10-0-2. NF: Helms 12-24-1-0; Martin 13-18-1.
RECEIVING SP: Kyle Brandt 3-36; Anthony Johnson 2-64; Deshawn Davis 1-47. NF: Riley Hilton 13-71; Josh Shade 2-46; Brandon Cureton 5-33; Colt Taylor 3-14; Spencer Pecarro 1-7; McClure 1-6.
RECORDS SP 5-2, 2-1; NF 5-2, 2-1
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T