In a matchup featuring two of the area’s biggest powerhouse high school football programs, the South Pointe Stallions proved their mettle.
The Stallions opened the second half with a long touchdown drive to take the lead and take control in a 41-34 victory over Vance at Vance High School.
“That was one of the best football games I’ve been involved with,” Stallions coach Strait Herron said after the game. “Vance has a great team, they’re big and strong, and I’m extremely proud of our players for keeping their heads up and keep working. That was a great job.”
South Pointe’s defense shook off a rocky start to corral Cougars quarterback Kingsley Ifedi. The Stallions sacked the 6-foot-3 junior four times and intercepted him once.
The first-quarter interception by Zy Williams set up a Stallions touchdown with Greg Ruff throwing the first of his four touchdown passes.
The Cougars (3-1) were 28-7 victors over South Pointe last season, which saw Vance finish the season as a North Carolina Class 4A state semifinalist. Vance scored late, but Jeremiah Hall’s 18-yard catch and run capped a 16-play, 92-yard drive that took over 5 minutes off the clock.
“They’re a tough team and a very fast team,” Vance coach Aaron Brand said of the Stallions (4-0). “They just beat us to the punch.”
After trailing 27-21 at halftime, South Pointe opened the second half with an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Voshon St. Hill’s 2-yard plunge into the end zone to cap the drive gave the Stallions a lead they would not relinquish.
“The offense did a great job hanging in and making plays,” Herron said. “The offensive line stepped up in the second half.”
With Vance facing a third-and-33 inside its own territory, highly recruited receiver Myles Dorn ripped a bomb from Ifedi away from Derion Kendrick for a 40-yard completion.
But the play was called back because of an illegal shift by the Cougars, one of 16 penalties for 137 yards.
“We’ve had problems shooting ourselves in the foot all year,” Brand said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be up in games, but when you’re even and you make mistakes like that, they just cost you.”
Ruff completed 15 of 19 passes for 84 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 55 yards on eight carries, despite getting sacked twice.
“Greg just does his thing,” Herron said. “He gets first downs when we need them. He keeps the play alive. He can throw it when he needs to. He can run it, just a great player and a great kid.”
The 5-9 senior also drew praise from the Vance coach.
“Ruff’s a very good player and was tough to tackle,” Brand said. “When you think you’ve got him shut down and you think you’ve got your lanes filled, that guy comes out of nowhere and makes a play. I can appreciate the skill level the quarterback has.”
There were 35 points scored in the first quarter, and the scoring outburst did not surprise Herron.
“We kind of figured it was going to be that way, there’d be a lot of scoring,” Herron said. “We knew we’d have problems slowing them down.
“But we went in at halftime and made some adjustments and did a great job in the second half.”
South Pointe 41, Vance 34
South Pointe 21 0 7 13 – 41
Vance 14 13 0 7 – 34
VHS – Nathaniel Jones 65 pass from Kingsley Ifedi (Osmin Alvarenga kick) 10:55
SP – Quintest Bishop 90 pass from Derion Kendrick (B.T. Potter kick) 10:30
SP – Quay Brown 4 pass from Greg Ruff (Potter kick) 7:30
SP – Lorenzo Wells 42 pass from Ruff (Potter kick) 4:30
VHS – Jeremiah Hall 3 run (Alvarenga kick) 1:48
VHS – Myles Dorn 37 pass from K. Ifedi (Alvarenga kick) 9:53
VHS – K. Ifedi 3 run (kick failed) 0:10.5
SP – Voshon St. Hill 2 run (Potter kick) 9:13
SP – Wells 3 pass from Ruff (PAT failed) 9:19
SP – Brown 3 pass from Ruff (Potter kick) 6:35
VHS – Hall 18 pass from K. Ifedi (Alvarenga kick) 1:22