The cross-town rivalry between South Pointe and Rock Hill already bubbles with emotion.
Both schools felt an added touch Friday after the passing of longtime Herald sportswriter Barry Byers, a Rock Hill High graduate whose grandson attends South Pointe.
The teams lined up across District Three Stadium for a moment of silence in Byers memory before kickoff and engaged in the defensive struggle Byers wouldve appreciated. The Stallions defeated the Bearcats 24-14, but Byers passing remains on the coaches minds.
Im not sure youll find an individual who has meant more to this community than Barry Byers, Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery said. From the rec leagues to high school football, he did it all here.
South Pointe coach Strait Herron agreed.
Barrys been covering high school football down here since I was a player, so I was definitely touched, Herron said. But we had a game to play and played hard and played through it. I know Barrys looking down saying, Coach, you have to clean up those mistakes.
South Pointe (6-2, 3-1) relied on its trademark defense for four sacks and six interceptions, the first a 17-yard interception return for a touchdown by Devion Williams for a 10-0 lead with 10:22 left in the first half.
Rock Hill (3-5, 2-2) nearly had a pick six of its own, but Jamil Simpsons 45-yard return was negated by a roughing the passer call. The teams combined for 25 penalties for 185 yards.
They also combined for four more turnovers in the third quarter. Simpson had an interception for Rock Hill, and Marveon Mobley and Chris Smith had interceptions for the Stallions. The fourth turnover, however, proved to be a fumble, which Rock Hills Sandifer McCullough took 77 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 10-7 with 2:20 left in the period.
Simpson recovered a fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Dylan Jones delivered a 40-yard touchdown pass to DaChon Witherspoon to give Rock Hill its first lead at 14-10 with 10:51 remaining.
After trading punts, the Stallions were backed up on their own 9-yard line. Zaylin Burris then hit Deshawn Davis for an 82-yard streak. Burris found Anthony Johnson for a 13-yard touchdown the next play for a 17-14 lead with 7:27 left.
(Burris) is a young quarterback and we have to stick with him, Herron said. He made a great throw, and Davis did a good job of breaking two tackles there. It was a big play.
Mobleys third interception followed. Burris connected with Kyle Brandt on a clutch fourth-down pass, and Nick McCloud bulled into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown reception three plays later. Mobley sealed South Pointes fourth straight win in the rivalry with his fourth interception. Rock Hill, meanwhile, finished with seven turnovers.
I thought we played really well defensively, Montgomery said. We got after it, but we just made too many mistakes. We have to play through those and get better. We can still make the playoffs.
South Pointe 24, Rock Hill 14
SP-Kyle Dix 19 field goal
SP-Devion Williams 17 interception return (Dix kick)
RH-Sandifer McCullough 77 fumble return (Easton Templeton kick)
RH-Dylan Jones 40 pass to DaChon Witherspoon (Templeton kick)
SP-Zaylin Burris 13 pass to Anthony Johnson (Dix kick)
SP-Burris 11 pass to Nick McCloud (Dix kick)
RUSHING SOUTH POINTE: Josh Brice 25-86, Burris 14-43, Vinny Emanuele 4-11, Johnson 2-18, Williams 3-0. ROCK HILL: Justin Stokes 6-19, Brandon Banks 6-0, JuaQuan Feaster 5-14, Timothy Sherer 1-2.
PASSING SOUTH POINTE: Burris 13-29-1, 239 yards. ROCK HILL: Banks 15-30-3, 111 yards; Jones 6-12-3, 105 yards; DeShaun McFadden 1-1-0, 2 yards.
RECEIVING SOUTH POINTE: Johnson 5-57, Deshawn Davis 3-109, Kyle Brandt 4-62, McCloud 1-11. ROCK HILL: Feaster 6-79, Witherspoon 3-60, Stokes 3-36, John McCullough 2-9, Jermaine White 5-28, Antonio Hardy 2-4, Brandon Croutch 1-2.
RECORDS: South Pointe 6-2 (3-1), Rock Hill 3-5 (2-2).