For a half it looked like South Pointe had put the frustrations of a long week behind them.
But in 12 short minutes, all their good work was undone.
Spartanburg scored 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take a 30-21 win over the Stallions on Friday night, ruining the Stallions' undefeated march through the non-region season .
"It wasn't just the fourth quarter," South Pointe coach Strait Herron said. "We just played uninspired football all night. I asked them at halftime what the problem was, and nobody knew.
"I don't know either. But we're going to turn it around."
South Pointe committed two turnovers at costly times - both leading to Spartanburg touchdowns - and the Stallions offense stalled in the second half . But this loss was marked by a lack of focus that had Herron lathered up when addressing his team, knowing a chance to beat one of the state's traditional Class-AAAA powers slipped away.
Asked if the distractions of last week's post-game fight with Rock Hill -- which led to numerous suspensions -- or a spate of injuries during the game were a factor, Herron was defiant.
"Nope, none," he said. "Not a factor at all. The guys we're counting on were playing tonight."
The Stallions dressed just 46 players from a roster of 65. Seven injured players were on the sidelines, including star senior defensive back Corey Neely. That left 14 absentees, but Herron cautioned that some of those were 10th graders who don't dress each week. Four 10th graders were among the missing from the roster, leaving 10.
Whether those 10 were serving a punishment or on a family vacation, it's far beyond the two suspensions initially reported by district superintendent Lynn Moody Monday, indicating an increased punishment that came down from the South Carolina High School League.
Herron was adamant about not talking about the suspended, and made a point to emphasize sportsmanship to his team before the game started. Before they even went into pre-game warm-ups, the Stallions walked through a line, shaking hands with the Vikings quietly before the crowd filtered in and the lights came on.
After the game, South Pointe adjourned to the far end of the field, while Spartanburg headed for the locker room, to prevent any appearance of conflict like last week's.
South Pointe missed the injured Neely early on, as a muffed punt by replacement Cody Blake gave Spartanburg field position, and quarterback Adrian Pollock made them pay three snaps later, running in for a 4-yard touchdown.
After that, however, the Stallions settled into a rhythm on both sides of the ball.
South Pointe evened the score two plays later on Devin Pearson's 54-yard touchdown run, and then got the ball right back on an interception by JaRyan Jennings.
That's when things got a little tricky.
Brandan Barber popped through the Spartanburg line for a first-down run, but when they laid hands on him, he quickly pitched to Montay Crockett, who dashed the remaining 73 yards before the Vikings realized what happened. South Pointe ran a quick trick play for the two-point conversion, with Malik Jamerson taking a direct snap and sliding in for a 15-7 lead.
They made it a two-touchdown lead on the first possession of the second half, with Pearson hitting Tay Hicklin for a 32-yard pass to get them inside the 5, and then Pearson covered the last yard himself for his second score of the night.
But that's when things soured. Crockett's fumble on a third-down reception set up the next Vikings score, with Pollock scoring easily from a yard out to close the gap to 21-14.
Followed by a quick three-and-out by the Stallions, the Vikings tied the game on a 2-yard touchdown run by Deuntrelle Goudelock.
Cameron Brown's 20-yard field goal with 6.6 seconds left was the game-winner, but the Spartanburg kicker ended up with the ball in his hands in the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, when South Pointe's attempts to lateral the ball around misfired badly.