It’d be a safe guess that neither coach from the South Pointe-Rock Hill football rivalry game slept soundly Saturday night.
South Pointe’s Strait Herron would be glad his team won 30-23, beating the Bearcats for a seventh straight time and wrapping up the 2016 city championship. But 13 penalties for 135 yards and a pair of early turnovers won’t sit well with the sixth-year coach whose team again survived an inconsistent performance.
“Their best offense was our defense causing penalties,” Herron said afterward. “We’ve got to fix that stuff.”
Rock Hill coach Bubba Pittman will be sick to his stomach after his team gave up a late lead and lost, with five turnovers the obvious culprit.
“I’m proud of our kids’ effort,” he said. “They were in there with a chance to win it and missed one tackle and the game ends differently.”
The Bearcats led 10-9 at the half, before South Pointe grabbed the lead back in a seesaw game on Marice Whitlock’s 3-yard TD run. Narrii Gaither punched in a Rock Hill score and Eric Stroud took a short screen 62 yards for a touchdown and a 23-16 Bearcats lead with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game.
The missed tackle Pittman referred to came shortly thereafter.
J.P. Pendergrass caught a pass over the middle, ran through a strip-attempt and booked it 80 yards for a touchdown. The Stallions scored the go-ahead touchdown 3 minutes later, Voshon St. Hill’s 4-yard run capping a win against a Bearcats team that wanted a rivalry victory more than anything.
“They’re a good team, we told them all week,” said Herron. “Luckily our guys hung in there and that’s a big win for us.”
Rock Hill had a 23-16 lead in the fourth quarter for 13 seconds.
After Pendergrass’ long touchdown catch-and-run tied the score almost immediately, Rock Hill QB Logan McFadden - spelling starter Dre Robinson, who left the game after a nasty late hit in the third quarter - lobbed a pass too far and South Pointe senior safety Ken’darius Fredrick picked picked it off and weaved into the Bearcats’ end. A 15-yard penalty for arguing moved the Stallions inside the Rock Hill 25. Completions of 10 and 15 yards to Quinest Bishop got the hosts inside the Rock Hill 5, where St. Hill bulled in for the game-winning touchdown.
“We just tried to keep our heads up on defense even if things were going bad,” said Fredrick, who also recovered a fumble earlier in the contest.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. It was hard to decide which was more surprising: the Bearcats’ five giveaways - four interceptions and a fumble - or the fact that they were still in the game in the fourth quarter with the two-time defending 3A state champs. Rock Hill and its coach will feel that they can make some noise this year if they can wrestle their turnover problems into submission.
“Those guys, they’re great athletes and you can’t put the ball up in any kind of space because they’re gonna react and make plays,” said Pittman. “We put the ball in danger in some situations where we were able to get away with it last week and weren’t able to get away with it this week.”
There were star contributions all over the field.
Pendergrass caught five passes for 141 yards and the long, late touchdown, while Derion Kendrick was 27-for-40 for 373 yards and a touchdown and interception each. He did a nice job of extending plays in the face of an incessant pass rush off the edge by the Bearcats. St. Hill had close to 100 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns.
Fredrick had another active game in the Stallions’ secondary, while Cort Neely, Justin Reese and Jamari Currence also made South Pointe interceptions.
Both kickers were really good, too, with Rock Hill’s Zhenya Deller blasting a 45-yard field goal that would have been good from longer distance.
Jordan Morris was a banshee at safety for Rock Hill, forcing a fumble and making several pass break-ups and strong open field tackles throughout the contest. Another Bearcat, sophomore running back Narrii Gaither, ran 14 times for 103 yards and a touchdown and showed some nifty moves to slip out of tacklers’ grasps.
Coupled with the Week Zero win over Northwestern by the same score of 30-23, South Pointe’s win Saturday wrapped up a first city championship for the Stallions since 2012.
“It’s a good feeling, it’s something I think all three teams strive to,” Herron said. “If you can win two games in this city against the other two schools you’re doing pretty good.”
South Pointe makes the lengthy trip to Maryland to face St. Frances Academy; Rock Hill hosts Boiling Springs at District Three Stadium.
South Pointe 30, Rock Hill 23
Rock Hill;7;3;7;6- 23
South Pointe;6;3;7;14- 30
RHHS – Kenny Agurs 18 pass from Dre Robinson (Zhenya Deller kick), 4:10
SPHS – Voshon St. Hill 2 run (kick failed), 00:57
SPHS – B.T. Potter 31-yard field goal, 10:50
RHHS – Deller 45-yard field goal, 3:39
SPHS - Marice Whitlock 3 run (Potter kick), 9:06
RHHS - Narrii Gaither 1 run (Deller kick), 6:15
RHHS - Eric Stroud 62 pass from Logan McFadden (kick failed), 5:45
SPHS - J.P. Pendergrass 80 pass from Derion Kendrick (Potter kick), 5:32
SPHS - St. Hill 4 run (Potter kick), 2:29
RUSHING RHHS: Des Buchanan 11-53; Narrii Gaither 14-103; Dre Robinson 1-11; Logan McFadden 4-(-5). SPHS: Derion Kendrick 7-10; Geomni Mayfield 6-16; Voshon St. Hill 18-55; Joe Ervin 1-13; Marice Whitlock 4-16.
PASSING RHHS: Robinson 7-19-3, 93 yards; McFadden 5-7-1, 63 yards. SPHS: Kendrick 27-40-1, 373 yards; Stevie Gilmore Jr. 0-1-0.
RECEIVING RHHS: Kenny Agurs 2-19; Qua Brice 1-5; Gaither 3-9; Buchanan 3-60; Eric Stroud 2-63. SPHS: St. Hill 3-35; Mayfield 1-5; Jonathan Muhammad 1-21; Jamari Currence 3-24; Quinest Bishop 6-46; J.P. Pendergrass 5-141; Gilmore Jr. 2-16; Whilock 2-19; Scott Robinson Jr. 1-31; B.J. Davis 2-35.
RECORDS Rock Hill 1-2; South Pointe 3-0