ROCK HILL Annoyed. Ticked off. Motivated.
Any of these would have captured the mood around the South Pointe football program before Friday night’s 63-3 beating of the Nation Ford Falcons. After a trying week in which the team’s starting quarterback was arrested and the team was shut out 27-0 by rival Northwestern, Strait Herron’s team 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 Region 3) raced out to a 42-0 halftime advantage behind an irrepressible pass rush. The visitors held Nation Ford (5-2, 2-1) to minus-24 yards rushing and sacked Falcons Dalton Helms and Cole Martin six times unofficially.
“This was the first game of the playoffs for us,” senior linebacker Josh Massey said. “After that tough one, we knew it all had to restart week by week.”
Massey was particularly outstanding. He finished with three sacks, a forced fumble that led to a 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 standout Zeek Rodney, but they very well may have left with another name on their notepad, Massey’s.
Nation Ford turned the ball over nine times in its last two losses to South Pointe, both lopsided defeats, and they continued that trend Friday night with four turnovers. 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 the assault on Helms, sacking him 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 pass from Zaylin Burris to Deshawn Davis put the Stallions on 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 Falcons’ 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.
Herron’s team effectively killed off the game 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 ball 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.
“We just wanted to let everybody know we’ve been facing adversity all year,” Massey said. “The thing we rely on is keep going. Just don’t let up.”
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