Much like the fans in a cold District Three South Stadium on Friday night, it took South Pointe’s offense a little while to warm up. Once it did, though, the Stallions gradually separated from a tough Belton-Honea Path team.
Senior quarterback Derion Kendrick ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, as South Pointe scored 42 unanswered points to defeat Belton-Honea Path, 45-3, and advance to the third round of the 4A playoffs.
“Everybody knows (that) if you lose, you go home, so everybody wants to play, and play really hard,” South Pointe coach Strait Herron said. “I was just extremely proud of our guys.”
A 27-yard B.T. Potter field goal capped the Stallions’ second possession of the game, giving the home side a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. Belton-Honea Path (9-3) answered three minutes into the second period, as the Bears overcame a bad snap to get down the placement for a 25-yard Lance Jones field goal.
South Pointe (12-0) turned its next two possessions into end zone trips, with Kendrick scoring on a 20-yard run and connecting with Isaac Ross on a 30-yard pass, giving the Stallions a 17-3 lead they would eventually take to the interval.
The Stallion defense cranked up the heat in the closing 24 minutes, forcing four punts and recording an interception, while South Pointe’s offense did the rest of the work. The Stallions found the end zone on four of their second-half possessions, with a nifty 70-yard run by Kendrick on a second-and-27 play capping the scoring.
Joe Ervin and Marice Whitlock each recorded one-yard touchdown runs, with a 26-yard Kendrick-to-Steve Gilmore touchdown coming late in the third.
The Kendrick-to-Ross hookup provided a gigantic momentum swing. South Pointe faced a fourth-and-7 from the Belton-Honea Path 30, and after bringing B.T. Potter onto the field for a long field goal attempt, the Stallions called timeout.
After a prolonged discussion, the Stallion offense returned from the sideline, and Kendrick found Ross in the center of the end zone.
“I was talking with (offensive coordinator Jason McManus), and he thought he had a play called,” said Herron, adding that his original inclination was to allow Potter to attempt the field goal. “Then I got to thinking, man, (a) bad snap, you get it blocked, they pick it up (and) scoop and score, then momentum changes. We just decided to put the ball in DK’s hands.”
Belton-Honea Path started eight of its 10 possessions at its own 20, with another starting at its own nine. This was largely due to the leg of Clemson commit B.T. Potter, who turned in his usual effort in the kicking game. Herron commented after the game on his star senior’s performance.
“Sometimes I think he needs to be our defensive MVP,” Herron said. “When you have a guy that can make them start on the 20 every single time, he’s a huge weapon, and boy, we’re gonna miss him. We’re gonna miss him bad.”
Kendrick started 1-for-5 passing for seven yards, but quickly reversed his fortunes. The future Clemson Tiger finished 12-for-18 for 273 yards, with the touchdowns to Ross and Gilmore through the air.
Kendrick also carried eight times for 125 yards and two long scores. Gilmore hauled in seven throws for 125 yards, with Ty Good adding three for 98.
The Stallion defense also turned in another stellar effort, limiting the Bears to fewer than 250 total yards. South Pointe picked off BHP quarterback Camden Bratcher twice, with Josh McClure and Jamari Currence each recording an interception.
“You can’t ask for any more (from the defense),” Herron said. “I’m extremely proud of them for stepping up and doing what they were coached to do.”
Sophomore Belton-Honea Path running back RJ Ellis shouldered much of the load on the ground for the Bears, carrying 21 times for 83 yards.
South Pointe will host Eastside in third-round playoff action next Friday. That game is scheduled for a 7:30 start.
South Pointe 45, Belton-Honea Path 3
Belton-Honea Path 0;3;0;0;-; 0
South Pointe 3;14;21;7;-; 45
SP – B.T. Potter 27 field goal 2:52
BHP – Lance Jones 25 field goal 9:00
SP – Derion Kendrick 20 run (Potter kick) 6:19
SP – Isaac Ross 30 pass from Kendrick (Potter kick) 3:59
SP – Joe Ervin 1 run (Potter kick) 8:33
SP – Marice Whitlock 1 run (Potter kick) 4:18
SP – Steve Gilmore 26 pass from Kendrick (Potter kick) 1:36
SP – Kendrick 70 run (Potter kick) 9:21
RUSHING Belton-Honea Path: RJ Ellis 21-83, Stan Gilchrist 15-25, Camden Bratcher 2-8, Braylon Oliver 3-18, Jeremiah Johnson 1-9. South Pointe: Derion Kendrick 8-125, Joe Ervin 9-29, Marice Whitlock 6-43, Quay Chambers 3-9.
PASSING Belton-Honea Path: Bratcher 11-21-2-101 yards. South Pointe: Kendrick 12-19-0-273 yards, Tahleek Steele 1-1-0-9 yards.
RECEIVING Belton-Honea Path: Oliver 2-16, Zy Scott 2-35, Ellis 2-4, DeAndre Cooley 3-36, Alex Roach 2-10. South Pointe: Ty Good 3-98, Steve Gilmore 7-125, Isaac Ross 1-30, Scott Robinson 1-20, Donovan McClinton 1-9.
RECORDS Belton-Honea Path 9-3, South Pointe 12-0.