South Pointe knew that it would take a special effort to knock off a team with 26 straight wins and four straight North Carolina 2A state championships.
The Stallions got that effort, and then some.
South Pointe turned in a combination of quick offensive strikes and prolonged defensive stands, defeating visiting Shelby (N.C.), 25-0, at District Three South Stadium Friday night.
After a 12-play, first-quarter Shelby drive that lasted nearly six minutes, South Pointe forced a stop on downs at its own 22. The Stallions then went 78 yards on six plays in 1:58 to take the lead, as Joe Ervin found the end zone from 15 yards away.
The defensive tug-of-war continued into the second quarter, before South Pointe broke through as the half drew to a close. A 21-yard strike from Derion Kendrick to Steven Gilmore Jr. in the left corner of the end zone extended the Stallion advantage to 13-0.
Shelby appeared poised to make a dent in the margin, as a 62-yard scamper from Xavier Brooks put the Golden Lions on the edge of the red zone. A 47-yard field goal attempt by Shelby missed as the half ended, keeping the Stallions’ lead at 13.
Shelby (5-1) went on another methodical drive early in the third quarter, controlling the ball for nine minutes and 27 seconds. The drive stalled at the South Pointe 32, as a Malik Sarratt pass glanced off the fingertips of an open Golden Lion receiver. South Pointe (5-0) wasted no time in capitalizing, as Kendrick hit a streaking Ty Good on a 68-yard strike to stretch the Stallion advantage to 19-0.
The final South Pointe score came on a recovered fumble in the end zone after a 54-yard pass from Derion Kendrick to Gilmore with 7:41 to play.
South Pointe’s stop of the 18-play Golden Lion drive in the third quarter gave Stallions the ball on their own 32. Kendrick hit Good on the ensuing play, extending the margin to 19 and largely putting the game out of reach.
“That was a heartbreaker, a backbreaker (for Shelby),” South Pointe coach Strait Herron said.
Kendrick said: “We got a big defensive stop, and we just needed some extra motivation to keep this game going. Coach called the right play call, and we executed.”
The South Pointe defense withstood a series of extended drives, forcing a number of punts, recording a 46-yard interception return and turning away Shelby to end two 12-plus play drives.
“(Shelby) coach (Lance) Ware told me that was part of their gameplan, to run the clock and try to slow the game down as much as possible,” Heron said. “The greatest thing about it is (that) our defense stayed in there, they kept fighting, we got the ball back, and then we let the athletes go.”
Kendrick threw for two touchdowns, nearly collecting a third before a fumble just short of the goal line. The senior quarterback finished 18-for-23 through the air, throwing for just over 240 yards. Ervin carried seven times for 49 yards and a score. Gilmore also scored twice, logging five grabs for 113 yards. South Pointe’s defense forced six Golden Lion punts, two turnovers on downs, an interception and a missed field goal in holding Shelby scoreless.
Shelby running back Xavier Brooks carried much of the load for the Golden Lions, notching 19 rushes for 105 yards. The senior gathered all but 26 of his club’s rushing yards.
South Pointe will travel to Ridge View for a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday.
South Pointe 25, Shelby 0
Shelby 0;0;0;0;-; 0
South Pointe 7;6;6;6;-; 25
SP – Joe Ervin 15 run (B.T. Potter kick) 2:12
SP – Steven Gilmore, Jr. 21 pass from Derion Kendrick (kick failed) :26.4
SP – Ty Good 68 pass from Kendrick (conversion failed) :10.1
SP – Gilmore fumble recovery (conversion failed) 7:41
RUSHING Shelby: Xavier Brooks 19-105; Malik Sarratt 23-28; George Dunlap 3-minus 3; Fabian Pettis 1-1. South Pointe: Derion Kendrick 5-12; Joe Ervin 7-49; Steven Gilmore, Jr. 1-2; Marice Whitlock 5-11; Donovan McClinton 1-7.
PASSING Shelby: Sarratt 8-18-1-83 yards. South Pointe: Kendrick 18-23-0-241 yards.
RECEIVING Shelby: MJ Allen 3-55; Zondre Cherry 2-9; Xavier Brooks 2-8; Tucker Greene 1-11. South Pointe: Isaac Ross 6-35; Gilmore 5-113; Whitlock 2-5; Scott Robinson, Jr. 4-20; Ty Good 1-68.
RECORDS Shelby 5-1, South Pointe 5-0