The play may have given South Pointe a final push towards Friday night's Class AAA, Upper State championship game.
On Oct. 15, quarterback Tay Hicklin ran out of bounds in front of the Stallions' bench and was smothered by several Fairfield Central players. A scuffle ensued and a yellow flag flew, indicating a personal foul.
But it wasn't the usual penalty, when the defenders are caught hitting late. The flag was on Hicklin for slugging a Griffins' player. According to Hicklin, he was retaliating.
"One of their guys had his hand inside my facemask clawing at my face,'' he said. "I shouldn't have done it, but I reacted and got caught. I did something I didn't think I'd do in a game.''
Hicklin was sent to the bench for the reminder of the game. He had to sit out the next game against Chester as punishment from the South Carolina High School League. But if a mistake ever had a silver lining, this was it.
Devin Pearson took over just before halftime against the Griffins. Admittedly, he was nervous and didn't play well. But he fired a touchdown pass in the second half, and South Pointe's defense took over to preserve a 17-7 win.
It was a big victory, propelling South Pointe to the Region 4-AAA regular-season championship and the top seed in its side of the 16-team Upper State playoffs.
It also gave Pearson confidence. The next week, he ran for 277 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Chester.
"Yeah, I'm getting more confident and more comfortable every game,'' said Pearson, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound sophomore. "And I can tell the other offensive players look to me for leadership and that they are confident I can move the team. It takes all of us working together, not just one person.''
Pearson has started each week since. He will be under center Friday when South Pointe, 12-1 and No. 1 in Class AAA, plays a rematch with Fairfield Central, also 12-1 and ranked No. 4. The winner advances to next Saturday's state championship game against either Myrtle Beach or Bluffton.
Hicklin and Stallions coach Bobby Carroll said the offense has been "more'' cohesive under Pearson. Pearson's numbers back that up.
Starting the last 5 games, Pearson has completed 15 of 31 passes for 462 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed 74 times for 563 yards and five TDs.
"Devin is more balanced,'' Hicklin said. "My strength is running. He can run and pass and I have no problem with him playing quarterback. He does a good job and throws a good ball. He does well running our option offense.
"I'm happy for him and happy for me. I'm a junior and most colleges are looking at me as a defensive back. I'm starting there and starting at wide receiver. Both positions are what I want to do and with Devin at quarterback it allows me to play them.''
Carroll switched offenses this season to the triple option. For it to work, the quarterback has to make quick decisions on what the defense is giving: keep the ball, pitch it, hand off or pass. Pearson performs like he was born to run it after his so-so, unexpected first taste of action.
"I might not have done as good of a job getting Devin ready as we should have,'' Carroll said. "But who expected what happened to Tay? Nobody. But you should still have your No. 2 guy ready to go.
"Devin made some mistakes against Fairfield in our first game, but we were able to overcome them and win, and he's getting better every week. We feel that we have two good quarterbacks, but Devin is a little better at running the triple option, and our offense has become more explosive.''
Pearson said he hasn't thought much about the first Fairfield Central game "except I was nervous at first and didn't play that well.''
"But that game's in the past and the one Friday is the future. Win and we go to Columbia and play for the state. Lose and a good season ends.
"I had to prove myself at first, but I feel like I've done that to other teams, my teammates and my coaches. Fairfield is not going to see the same quarterback they saw the first time, but they will be a better team, too. They want to win as bad as we do, and we have to make the big plays.''
More honors for Clowney
South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has been named the SportsIllustrated.com national defensive player of the week.
The site says Clowney's combination of size and speed has arguably made him the most highly coveted player among this year's seniors.
Bus to Goose Creek NOTE: Three bus companies are offering Northwestern fans the chance to travel to Goose Creek Friday night for the Trojans' Class AAAA, Division II semifinal game. For more information, visit northwesterntrojans.org. Click on the link under "announcements & events."
Class AAAA DII seminfinals
Northwestern at Goose Creek
North Augusta at Greenwood
Upper State championship
Fairfield Central at South Pointe
Lower State championship
Myrtle Beach at Bluffton
Games at 7:30 p.m.