Tahleek Steele, in his words, “wasn’t going to let it happen.”
Come the end of a first half against Lancaster that thoroughly tested the Stallions, South Pointe came together in the locker room at halftime — and they discussed a game that has been weighing on them all season.
“We were talking about the Daniel game,” Steele told The Herald after his team’s 42-27 win over Lancaster. Daniel High School knocked South Pointe out of the playoffs last year — abbreviating the seasons of some of last year’s beloved South Pointe seniors.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about during the offseason and when the season started… We told the seniors (at halftime) that we got to be leaders, and that’s what we did.”
On their first two drives, the Lancaster Bruins marched. Their first drive took six snaps: Three rushes came from running back Juelz Hood; three rushes were by quarterback Sean Truesdale — including a 46-yard rush and his four-yard punch-in for a touchdown. 7-0, Lancaster.
Lancaster’s second drive was eerily similar. Truesdale took a snap from the shotgun and ran between the tackles for 42 yards and another touchdown. 14-0, Lancaster.
By the end of the first quarter, Truesdale accumulated 95 yards without attempting a pass.
South Pointe started the second quarter with a score of its own on a drive that started on a short field and was capped off by a two-yard rush by quarterback Tahleek Steele — but Lancaster wasn’t quick to roll over. The next possession, Lancaster fullback Will Burton ran in a two-yard score. 21-8, Bruins.
The Stallions entered halftime down, 21-15 — and they were visibly stunned.
“It was very frustrating,” Steele said. “We’ve never been down like that.”
And they wouldn’t be again: South Pointe didn’t give up another point the rest of the game — and it scored 34.
In the team’s first possession after the break, Steele found wide receiver Shy’Quan Ferguson for a five-yard touchdown. The next time the Stallions had the ball, the two connected again — this time for a 61-yard touchdown off a slant and sprint down the middle of the field.
South Pointe head coach DeVonte Holloman said his offense was a reliable unit for the team.
“Our offense did a really good job all night,” Holloman told The Herald. “We had maybe one bad series when we didn’t do so hot, but then outside of that, I think we moved the ball on every other series and scored every time.”
In the fourth quarter, Steele found a streaking Raseac Myles for a 66-yard touchdown, and then running back Nygel Moore punched in a six-yard score to give South Pointe a 42-21 lead — and the margin wouldn’t budge the rest of the game.
Steele ended his night 20-for-25 passing for 377 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 19 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
His favorite targets were Shy’Quan Ferguson, who finished with four catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns; O’Mega Blake, who recorded with seven catches for 120 yards; and Raseac Myles, who hauled in five throws for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Lancaster was led by a two-speared rushing attack in quarterback Truesdale and running back Hood. Truesdale had 19 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns; Hood notched 21 carries for 69 yards.
Lancaster head coach Marcus Surratt said postgame that despite the early success his team had, he wishes he would have managed the game differently in the first half.
“We ran the football well, and we put points on the board early,” Surratt said. “But looking back on it — 20-20 hindsight — I probably should have slowed the pace down a little bit and conserved some energy and conserved our bodies a little bit.”
For South Pointe — by every measure, per its coach — Friday night was what the team needed.
“It’s a win, but it’s also what we needed,” Holloman said. “We needed a little bit of a wake up call. After you win a couple in a row, you start to read the news clippings about yourself. You start to feel yourself a bit.
“It was a humbling half … but really good job by us to rally and come back and play our brand of football in the second half.”