The offenses reigned supreme Friday night as the No. 6 seeded Belmont South Point Red Raiders hosted the No. 15 seeded East Rowan Mustangs in a 3A N.C. third-round state playoff game.
Belmont South Point prevailed 42-32 to advance to the fourth round, and will travel to No. 1 seeded Crest next Friday to take on the Chargers.
The two teams combined for over 1,000 yards of offense, with South Point finishing with 532 and East Rowan 470.
Red Raiders running back Ryland Etherton ran 30 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while Tanner Muse ran eight times for 123 yards and one score for South Point.
Mustangs quarterback Samuel Wyrick put on an aerial show going 32-of-53 passing for 338 yards and two touchdowns. Wyrick also ran for a score.
“Both teams were doing the same thing, ball control and going down and score,” South Point coach Mickey Lineberger said. “We were lucky enough to get more stops than they did.”
The Red Raiders (10-4) never trailed in the game, but East Rowan (7-7) was never far behind. South Point led 28-25 at the half and never was ahead by more than 10 points.
Trailing 35-32 midway through the fourth quarter, the Mustangs recovered a Red Raiders fumble at their own 26 with hopes of taking their first lead of the game. But three plays later South Point’s JT Starr snared an interception and ran it back to the East Rowan 33. Five plays later Ben Washam scored on an 18-yard run to put the game out of reach for the Mustangs.
“I just went out and tried to make a big play for my team,” Starr said. “When I went out there and the quarterback took it where he wanted to throw it, I just made a big play and put the offense back on the field.”
Up next for the Red Raiders will be the Crest Chargers next Friday in Boiling Springs. Crest beat South Point in Belmont 35-13 back in August, but Lineberger says the Red Raiders are a different team now.
“Crest has got probably the finest Crest football team I think I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We have improved a lot, and Friday night they’re not going to see the team they saw earlier in the year. They’ll play from snap to whistle and the Red Raiders are going to do the same.”