Calling the first half of South Pointe's 16-10 win over rival Northwestern a comedy of errors, in the season opener for both, might be too kind.
The jitters were on display as the Trojans and Stallions tried to gain a foothold, but it wasn't that simple.
Northwestern lost a pair of fumbles and threw an interception.
South Pointe had one of each, but didn't cross midfield for the first time until it's final possession of the half.
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But the second half belonged to the Stallions, thanks to the heady play of junior quarterback Devin Pearson. And once the two state powers began playing up to par, it should have been no surprise to anyone that the game came down to the final play - an incomplete Trojans pass in the left corner of the end zone.
"We threw our guys out there and challenged them," first-year Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson said. "Both of our quarterbacks are still learning, and we don't want to ask too much of them until they are comfortable. That's why we went with the run a lot more tonight."
With just over a minute remaining, South Pointe's Logan Ard drilled a 35-yard field goal that gave his team a 16-10 lead. The call, first-year Stallions coach Strait Herron said, was one he said will likely cause some second guessing.
Ard was charged with kicking the ball into the end zone and make the Trojans drive 80 yards from their 20 to win. The ball was headed that way, but Northwestern's Devonte Gibson went high into the air, snagged the line-drive kick and returned the ball from the 2 to the Trojans' 28.
Enter Northwestern's new 6-foot-5 quarterback, Westminster Catawba-transfer Mason Rudolph, a sophomore. He had split time with senior Matt Turney all night, but Richardson elected to see what he could do under pressure.
Rudolph covered 48 of the needed 72 yards with four completions. The final gave the Trojans possession at the Stallions' 21, where Rudolph spiked the ball with 21 ticks left. With time for one more play, he fired it toward the left corner of the end zone. The ball flew out of bounds as the game clock expired.
"It's always good to win your first, no matter who you are playing," Herron said. "Devin came up with some big plays. Our kids deserved this win."
Pearson carried 26 times for 149 yards, 52 on the final drive. He completed 4-of-9 passes for 50 yards.
"After my first pick, I knew I had to help us win," Pearson said. "I tried to put the team on my shoulders and carry it. But it's not just me, it's the team. On that last drive, I knew or defense would stop them."
Northwestern drew first blood, scoring midway through the second quarter after being set up on a pass interception by Sanquez Holmes. The touchdown was a 7-yard run up the middle by Turney.
South Pointe scored on its final possession of the quarter on the first of Manzey Miller's two touchdown runs. This one was for 13 yards, the second for 26 that put the Stallions ahead 13-7 on the opening drive of the second half.
Northwestern cut the gap to 3 on Sully Foy's 27-yard boot, also in the third quarter. That was it for the scoring until Ard's field goal at the end.
See video below.
N -- Matt Turney 26 run (Sully Foy kick)
SP -- Miller 13 run (Logan Ard kick)
SP -- Miller 26 run (kick failed)
N -- Foy 27 field goal
SP -- Ard 35 field goal
RUSHING -- Northwestern:LaThomas Long 15-62, Turney 3-5,Mason Rudolph 3-13, Dupre Hart 3-18. South Pointe: Devin Pearson 26-155, Miller 14-81, Brandan Barber 4-18.
PASSING -- Northwestern: Turney 8-11-134-1,Rudolph 14-21-62-0. South Pointe: Pearson 4-9-38-1.
RECEIVING -- Northwestern: Long 3-10, Jakari Golden 1-6, Rontavius McClure 4-34, BJ Boyd 7-75, Gage Miller 1-8, Darius Johnson 1-16, Hart 3-34, Odaryl Davis-Douglas 1-13. South Pointe: JaRyan Jennings 2-2, Tay Hicklin 1-34, Miller 1-2.
RECORDS: Northwestern 0-1, South Pointe 1-0.