South Pointe football coach Bobby Carroll is known for his fiery and spirited pre-game speeches to his Stallions team.
Carroll toned it a down a notch Friday night, telling his players their Class AAA Upper State championship game against the visiting Fairfield Central Griffins would be one of the biggest they'd ever play.
And he told them to keep composed, don't talk trash or do anything "stupid" that might get them ejected. He told them the Griffins would try to get under their skin, intimidate them and knock them off kilter every chance they got.
Unfortunately for Fairfield Central, a Griffins player had some choice words for one of his opponents before the game started. Carroll said those words lit the fire that helped the Stallions score 43 first-quarter points on their way to a 53-8 rout.
South Pointe (13-1 and ranked No. 1 in AAA) moved on to next Saturday's state championship game against Lower State champ Myrtle Beach, a 47-0 winner over Bluffton, with a 6 p.m. kickoff.
"Two state championships, three semifinal games in three years; not bad for a team in its fifth season of varsity football,'' Carroll said. "I'm proud of my kids, but I'm also concerned that after the first quarter when we got up 43-0 we seemed to not play as hard.
"But that was the case in the first quarter. I tell our kids not to talk any trash to an opponent before the game. But some things were said and it lit a little spark under us.''
It was more like a forest fire, destroying everything standing in its way before finally being put out. The Stallions led 22-0 only a minute and forty-five seconds into the game.
On the game's opening play, quarterback Devin Pearson fooled everyone but his team by dropping back and hitting a wide-open JaRyan Jennings running down the middle of the field for a 61-yard touchdown. Landon Ard drilled the conversion kick through the uprights.
The Griffins (12-2) fumbled on their third play when Gerald Dixon and Albert Neely rushed in and turned Danny Miller into a quarterback sandwich. The ball popped free. Jadeveon Clowney scooped it up and scored from 13 yards out. South Pointe went for 2 and converted on Jennings' run around right end.
A long line of Fairfield Central fans were still buying tickets at the visitors' gate when the score went to 22-0.
After Neely's interception on just the Griffins' fourth offensive play, Clowney took a second-down pitch from Pearson and ran around left end for a 3-yard TD on the Stallions' next possession.
As often happens, and as it should, Clowney and Dixon were playing lights-out on defense. But the player who usually is overshadowed, Neely, had what he called the best game he's played.
"I had two sacks, an interception and caused a fumble in the first quarter,'' Neely said. "But it wasn't our team's best game. We're saving that for the state championship; our goal is to play better.
"We did that tonight. When we played (Fairfield Central) the first time, we had five turnovers. Our coaches told us to go out and finish tonight, don't go out and not perform.''
The lead grew to 29-0 on Pearson's 15-yard TD pass to Jennings. Jalen Massey scored next on a 2-yard plunge. Clowney pushed the score to 43-0 late in the quarter on a 52-yard interception return down the right sideline.
"I don't think or remember ever seeing a football team score 43 points in one quarter,'' Carroll said. "In my 28 years of coaching, (Clowney's) the best player I've coached. If he doesn't win Mr. Football, then they shouldn't have the award.
"What other player can play on both sides of the ball and do what he does? You'll never see a better all-around player.''
Ard and the Stallions' defense were toxic to all Griffins in the first quarter. Ard kicked off six times, all touchbacks. Two split the uprights.
South Pointe's defense stonewalled Fairfield Central's usually potent offense, allowing the Griffins' initial first down with 3:42 left in the opening quarter. The Griffins ran only one play on the Stallions' side of the 50 - the one that resulted in Clowney's interception return for a TD.
And when the quarter ended, Fairfield Central had six rushing yards and six passing yards.
The rest of the game was more on the vanilla side. South Pointe scored in the third quarter on Massey's 2-yard plunge. The Stallions' lead grew to 53-0 in the final quarter on Ard's 26-yard field goal.
But the Griffins didn't leave town empty-handed. They scored with seven minutes left on a 55-yard Miller pass to Shaquille Young.
SOUTH POINTE 53
FAIRFIELD CENTAL 8
SP - JaRyan Jennings 61 pass from Devin Pearson (Land Ard kick).
SP - Jadaveon Clowney 13 fumble return (Jennings run).
SP - Clowney 3 run (Ard kick).
SP - Jennings 15 pass from Pearson (Ard kick).
SP - Jalen Massey 2 run (Ard kick).
SP - Clowney 52 interception (Ard kick).
SP - Massey 2 run (Ard kick).
SP - Ard 26 field goal.
FC - Shaquille Young 55 pass from Danny Miller (Miller run).
RUSHING - Fairfield Central: Damain Bell 10-24, D. Miller 25-(-15), Jimmy Walker 3-4, William Miller 2-20, Randall Adams 1-12. South Pointe: Crockett 4-15, Clowney 1-3. Jennings 7-50, Pearson 4-20, Jalen Massey 8-19, Brandon Barber 2-(-2), Dominique Ferguson 1-78, Logan Yard 4-15, Garrick Mackey 1-3.
PASSING - Fairfield Central: D, Miller 8-17-82-2. South Pointe: Pearson 2-4-76-0.
RECEIVING - Fairfield Central: Young 2-55; Adams 1-(-1), Dana Macklin 3-(-3), Bell 1-10, Devontre Parnell 1-22. South Pointe: Jennings 2-76.
RECORDS: South Pointe 13-1; Fairfield Central 12-2.