The Region 4-4A showdown between South Pointe and Blythewood on Friday night at Richland District 2 Stadium shaped up as a classic.
Until the second half started.
South Pointe, ranked No. 7 in Class 4A, exploded for 29 unanswered points in the third quarter to erase a three-point halftime deficit en route to a 43-24 victory. The victory allowed the Stallions to improve to 7-2 overall and 3-0 in the region, while the 10th-ranked Bengals dropped to 7-2 and 2-1.
"I once heard somebody say that one of the most meaningless stats is the halftime score," said Blythewood coach Geremy Saitz, who saw his team's five-game winning streak come to an end. "We didn't do some things we needed to do in the third quarter, and things didn't go our way. We knew going in they were a team that plays off momentum with big plays. Once they get going, they're hard to stop."
Senior running back Quinton Darby broke scoring runs of 58 and 36 yards early in the third quarter to give South Pointe a lead it did not relinquish. Darby finished with 210 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries for a per-carry average of 26.2 yards.
"He's fast, fast, fast," Saitz said. "They did things that we should have made adjustments to, but we didn't buckle down and get after them."
The 5-foot-10, 216-pound Darby has speed and power, especially when he turns the corner.
"I just try to keep my feet going for a big dude," said Darby, who liked how his teammates came back in the second half.
"We weren't prepared the way we should have been mentally. We started off slow making too many mistakes. I knew if we all got on one page, we'd roll with it."
South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll blamed his team's slow start on not being in school Friday.
"It doesn't hurt for kids to face a little adversity," Carroll said. "We knew if we got going that we'd be fine. Blythewood's got a good football team."
The backbreaker came on Trey Mackey's 28-yard interception return for a touchdown of a Danny Young pass that gave the Stallions a 36-17 lead midway through the third quarter. The Stallions gained 386 of their 387 yards in the ground. C.C. Jones added 103 yards on three carries, including a 97-yard touchdown run for South Pointe's first score.
"We've got five or six running backs who can run the ball," Carroll said. "That's what makes this team: We're unselfish."
Blythewood had more first downs by a 15-8 margin, but it couldn't counter all of South Pointe's big plays. The Bengals now will try to bounce back on the road against No. 2 Rock Hill (9-0, 3-0).
"That's the best thing about this game," Saitz said. "We've got a chance to come back next week."
Blythewood surprised a South Pointe defense that had given up one touchdown in the previous four games by jumping to a 17-14 halftime lead. The first half featured one big play after another from both teams.
Blythewood's first touchdown came on a 66-yard pass play from Young to Brandon Wilds, who took a short toss coming out of the backfield and outran defenders down the right sideline to give the Bengals a 10-7 lead. Wilds also scored Blythewood's second touchdown, on a 1-yard run to boost the lead to 17-7 to start the second quarter; the score was set up by Demonta Brown's 69-yard punt return.
South Pointe got its first score on a 97-yard run from Jones, who burst through the bunched-up line of scrimmage unscathed and scampered the distance. That gave the Stallions their only lead of the half at 7-3. They later cut the Bengals' lead to 17-14 on a 74-yard run from Darby, who broke a string of tackles, with 11:26 to play in the second quarter.
Blythewood took a 3-0 lead on its first drive when Evan Lanford intercepted a pass from South Pointe quarterback Corey Rawls on the Stallions 44. The nine-play drive ended with a 29-yard field goal by Alex Sharpe.
South Pointe 7 7 29 0 - 43
Blythewood 10 7 0 7 - 24
B - Alex Sharpe 29-yard FG, 6:56
SP - C.C. Jones 97-yard run (Landon Ard kick), 3:15
B - Brandon Wilds 66-yard pass from Daniel Young (Sharpe kick), 2:07
B - Wilds 1-yard run (Sharpe kick), 11:56
SP - Quinton Darby 74-yard run (Ard kick), 11:26
SP - Darby 58-yard run (Ard kick), 10:13
SP - Darby 36-yard run (Ard kick), 7:53
SP - Trey Mackey 28-yard interception return (Darby run), 6:52
SP - Raphael Ratliff 2-yard run (Ard kick), 2:35
B - Brown 9-yard pass from Demetric Gray (Sharpe kick), 1:55
First downs 8 15
Rushes-yards 23-386 45-105
Passing 1 164
Comp-Att-Int 1-9-1 12-26-3
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 7-57 1-5
Punts-avg. 5-46 4-30
Rushing: SP, Quinton Darby, 8-210; B, Brandon Wilds, 23-60
Passing: SP, Corey Rawls, 1-9-1, 1 yard; B, Daniel Young, 7-16-3, 99 yards
Receiving: SP, Ta Hicklin, 1-1; B, Damar Hall, 4-39