With a state final appearance on the line, the Boiling Springs Crest defense came up big, holding Belmont South Point in the final minutes to take a physical 13-7 victory in the 3A West football final Friday night.
Crest (15-0) blew out South Point 35-13 in week one, but coach Mark Barnes knew this game would be different.
“That group (South Point) has improved so much, and our kids knew this would be a dogfight,” Barnes said. “Our defense has been our staple and they showed it once again.”
Crest will face Havelock in the state final next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
The Chargers jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead, with the only touchdown coming on the first play of the second quarter when running back Tre Harbison took a direct snap from the wildcat formation and went 69 yards down the left side for a touchdown.
“It was a normal sweep,” Harbison said. “I was following blockers and saw a crease and knew I had to hit it quick to get through. Luckily I was able to do that and take it to the house.”
South Point (10-5) put together its best drive in the third quarter, going 66 yards in 12 plays (all runs), and the Red Raiders cut the lead to 13-7 when Tanner Muse scored from a yard out with 3 minutes, 34 seconds left in the third.
Late in the quarter South Point forced a Harbison fumble and took over at the Chargers’ 35, but Crest forced Red Raiders quarterback Jaquan Brooks into an incompletion on fourth down.
After a Crest missed field goal and a trading of punts, South Point took over at its own 23 with 1:07 left. The Red Raiders moved to their own 42, but on the final play Brooks was hit as he tried to throw and his pass fell incomplete.
It will be the fourth state finals appearance in the past five years for Crest under Barnes, who told his team after the game to enjoy the experience.
“There’s no such thing as an ugly win in the state semifinals,” Barnes said. “A lot of people expected this team to get here, but we’ve told the kids to have fun. If you’re not enjoying this it’s not worth it, so we’re going to do that and get ready to play for a state title.”
Harbison led Crest with 155 yards rushing, and the Crest defense held South Point to 152 yards rushing, more than 200 under their season average of 355.