ROCK HILL — For a team with one blemish on its record, South Pointe has had to overcome some things this year. That made Friday's 39-23 win over York that much sweeter and set the stage for a potentially bigger payoff.
"I've told these guys all along they can beat anybody on any given night," South Pointe coach Strait Herron said.
The Stallions dominated on both sides of the ball and on special teams, cruising to the Region 4-AAA title heading into the playoffs next week. Looking back on their season (9-1, 5-0), it wasn't without hiccups, and neither was Friday.
From an early season fight with Rock Hill which led to mass suspensions, to giving up 23 unanswered, confidence-shaking points in the fourth quarter of their lone loss to Spartanburg, there were bumps in the road.
The Stallions started a man down Friday, with starting quarterback Devin Pearson on the bench for a series for what Herron called "disciplinary reasons."
Tay Hicklin started at quarterback for the Stallions, and looked sharp under center with a 72 yard touchdown pass to Montay Crockett on their third play from scrimmage.
York answered with a quick pair of touchdowns - a 13-play drive capped by Spencer Carroll's 5-yard pass to Reggie McClain followed by a turnover on the ensuing kickoff.
South Pointe's coverage team didn't realize the ball was coming short, and the ball bounced off them to York for a recovery and short field. Carroll didn't need as much time, hitting Hunter Nunn for a 24-yard scoring pass for a 14-7 first quarter lead.
That was nearly the extent of the good news for the Cougars early, as the Stallions rolled to 25 points in the second quarter, taking advantage of their own quick strikes. Pearson started it with a 24-yard touchdown pass to JaRyan Jennings to tie the game, and after a three-and-out by York, didn't waste time taking the lead.
Corey Neely picked the punt up off a bounce and returned it 55 yards to get them to the Cougars 5, and after a penalty, Brandan Barber slashed in from 10 yards out on the next snap.
Then came an interception by Jennings on York's first play, and Logan Ard tacked on a 29-yard field goal. York's Matt Bostic matched him with a 32-yard field goal to get back within a touchdown at 24-17, but Hicklin hit them back, reversing field for an 85-yard kickoff return touchdown. In the confusion, Malik Jamerson ran for the conversion to give South Pointe a 32-17 lead at the half.
The pace slowed in the second half as the temperature dropped and rain fell harder. Pearson's 17-yard touchdown pass to Crockett was the only score of the third quarter, giving the Stallions a 39-17 lead, and York closed the gap on Lee Wright's late touchdown.
But South Pointe controlled the clock, never giving the Cougars (7-3, 4-1) a chance at a comeback.
For Cougars coach Bobby Carroll, it was a familiar look. The former South Pointe coach shook his head and admitted, "We got taken to the woodshed."
SOUTH POINTE 39, YORK 23
SP -- Tay Hicklin 72 pass to Montay Crockett (Logan Ard kick).
Y -- Spencer Carroll 5 pass to Reggie McClain (Matt Bostic kick).
Y -- Carroll 24 pass to Hunter Nunn (Bostic kick).
SP -- Devin Pearson 24 pass to JaRyan Jennings (Ard kick).
SP -- Brandan Barber 10 run (Ard kick).
SP -- Ard 29 field goal.
Y -- Bostic 32 field goal.
SP -- Hicklin 85 kickoff return (Malik Jamerson run).
SP -- Pearson 17 pass to Montay Crockett (Ard kick).
Y -- Lee Wright 5 run (pass failed)
RUSHING -- South Pointe: Tay Hicklin 1-(-2), Brandan Barber 10-56, Devin Pearson 17-94, Logan Ard 2-(-34), Manzey Miller 9-33. York: Lee Wright 27-77, C.J. Pendergrass 6-21, Mark Mobley 1-6, Spencer Carroll 5-16.
PASSING -- South Pointe: Hicklin 2-2-0 84 yards, Pearson 8-12-0 82 yards. York: Carroll 14-28-2 156 yards.
RECEIVING -- South Pointe: Ard 1-12, Montay Crockett 2-89, JaRyan Jennings 4-41, Barber 1-4, Hicklin 2-20. York: Hunter Nunn 2-35, D.J. Simpson 1-5, Reggie McClain 5-39, Matt Bostic 1-9, Lamin Yanseneh 1-22, Josh McCoy 2-17, Wright 1-1, Mobley 1-28.
RECORDS: South Pointe: 9-1, 5-0. York: 7-3, 4-1.
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Darin Gantt 803-326-4312