GOOSE CREEK — The odds were definitely against the South Pointe football team after Goose Creek scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass to seize a four-point lead at halftime.
The Gators, riding a 38-game winning streak, stole the momentum after South Pointe took a 10-point lead earlier in the second quarter.
But instead of pushing the panic button, the Stallions regrouped with a brilliant defensive effort to limit a potent Gators offense to one more touchdown late in the fourth quarter before holding on for a dramatic 30-27 victory.
The Stallions (11-2) punched the Gators in the mouth early and often. After an interception from defensive back Marveon Mobley and 55-yard return to the 5, the Stallions took a 7-0 lead when Josh Brice ran in from 2 yards out on a fourth-and-goal attempt.
Goose Creek provided a quick answer when Tyrik Johnson ran 1 yard into the end zone on fourth down.
However, the Stallions used a lengthy kickoff return from Anthony Johnson to the Gators 28 to set up the second score, a 14-yard touchdown pass from Zaylick Burris to Deshawn Davis. A 30-yard field goal from Kyle Dix boosted the lead to 17-7 with 6:07 remaining before the half.
Goose Creek (12-1) appeared to weather the storm. A nine-play, 60-yard drive closed the deficit to three as Evan McField blasted 5 yards to paydirt.
The Gators held the Stallions and mounted a quick scoring march with 1:22 remaining before the half. Quarterback Dantez Bennaman fired a 2-yard pass to Dijon Profit with 9.8 seconds before the half.
All of a sudden, the Gators went in the locker room with momentum with the 21-17 lead.
South Pointe, however, did not panic. Stallions coach Strait Herron and defensive ace Zeke Rodney said that halftime adjustments were made to slow the Gators passing attack, which produced 157 yards in two quarters.
I told them that for the first quarter and a half, we had them on their backs and they were looking up at us, Herron said. Then in the last part of the second quarter, they had us on our backs. I told our guys we had to get up.
Rodney, the Stallions Shrine Bowl representative, said that moving an extra defender in the secondary was a huge adjustment.
We had five on the line for their running attack. But because they were passing so good, we dropped an extra defensive back in the secondary, he said. Coach asked me if we could get pressure by rushing only four and I said yeah we could.
The strategy worked wonders for the Stallions. The Gators momentum was slowed while South Pointe gained momentum offensively.
Burris, who gained 91 yards, picked up 47 yards on a keeper to the 17, setting up Bree Minor with a 17-yard run and 24-21 Stallions lead. After forcing a Goose Creek punt, the Stallions mounted another drive, marching 43 yards to the Gators 13.
Instead of getting six points, the Stallions used the leg of Kyle Dix for a 30-yard field goal and 27-21 advantage. On their next possession, Dix came through again with a 25-yard field goal after a drive inside the 10 stalled.
His kick made the contest a two-possession game, 30-21.
Goose Creek did attempt to rally in the fourth, moving down to the 20 with 6:00 remaining. However, Will Smith was off target on a 35-yard field goal attempt.
The Gators did march down for another drive, and this time, reached the end zone with Caleb Kinlaw running 2 yards for the score with 1:46 remaining.
South Pointe received a deep kick as the Gators attempted the use their three timeouts to get the ball back. However, Burris gained 11 yards on a third down attempt to seal the deal for the dramatic Stallions victory.
The Stallions will return to the Goose Creek area to play Stratford, which defeated South Florence 30-14 in the other quarterfinals matchup Friday night.
South Pointe 30, Goose Creek 27
SP Josh Brice 2-yard run (Kyle Dix kick)
GC Alex Jacobux 1-yard run (Will Smith kick)
SP Zaylin Burris 14-yard pass to Marveon Mobley (Dix kick)
SP Dix 30-yard field goal
GC Evan McField 2-yard run (Smith kick)
GC Dantez Bennemen 2-yard pass to Dijon Profot (Smith kick)
SP Bree Monor 17-yard run (Dix kick)
SP Dix 30-yard field goal
SP Dix 25-yard field goal
GC Caleb Kinlaw 2-yard run (kick failed)
Rushing: South Pointe - Zaylin Burris 13-96, Bree Minor 13-66, Josh Brice 14-43, Anthony Johnson 3-22, Quay Hope 1-16, Josh Massey 1-2. Goose Greek - Caleb Kinlaw 10-88, Evan McField 21-61, Tyrik Johnson 5-15, Darin McNeal 1-5, Dantez Bennamon 2-0.
Passing: South Pointe - Zaylin Burris 4-12-1-44. Goose Creek - Dantez Bennamon 16-27-0-229, Caleb Kinlaw 1-2-0-36, Brandon McCarts 0-1-1-0.
Receiving: South Pointe - Anthony Johnson 3-29, Deshawn Davis 1-15. Goose Creek - Jordan Barnes 8-90, Deondre Daniels 6-126, Dijon Profit 3-49.