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By: Anthony Perkins

Belmont – It took less than 30 seconds for football fans to see why the rivalry between the Shelby Golden Lions and the South Point Red Raiders had been so special during the years of the Southwestern 3A Conference. If you didn’t know better, you would have thought that this was the last game of the year and the whole season was on the line as was often the case when these two teams met in the past. Before the fans could take their seats after the opening kickoff and on the first play from scrimmage Shelby quarterback R.M. George hooked up with split end Antwan Wright for a 78 yard scoring strike down the right side to stun the Red Raiders and their fans in this much anticipated game. About four minutes later, South Point answered on their first possession with an eight play, 80 yard drive when fullback Tyler Bray scored on a 7 yard run. Shelby kicker Luke Hayek added three more points to the Shelby total with a booming 51 yard field goal after the Golden Lions next drive stalled at the Red Raider 34 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.

Shelby stretched the lead to 17-7 on the first play of the second quarter when George connected with Ralph Jolly on a crossing route for 49 yards and things were looking bad for the favored Red Raiders. Shelby quarterback R.M. George picked the South Point defense apart in the first half by completing eight of ten passes for 205 yards while they were building their lead. However, the Red Raiders fought back and closed the gap to 17-14 before the first half ended on a five yard run by Jaquan Brooks to stay within reach and they would have the ball first to open the second half.

When asked about strategy changes he might have made during half time, South Point coach Mickey Lineberger said, "When we’re down I want to come out and act like a thoroughbred and kick out the opposition, not act like a jackass and kick each other down, and we did that tonight. Shelby’s quick and we were tested by a well-coached, good football team and it’s good to be tested so you’ll how to react."

A 39 yard touchdown pass from George to Antwan further tested the Red Raiders in the third quarter pushing the Golden Lion back out to a ten point lead. Just when it seemed like an "upset special" was brewing in Belmont the Red Raiders closed the gap to 21-24 when Brooks scored on another five yard run by with just 14 seconds left in the third quarter. Shelby coach Lance Ware said, "I knew we wouldn’t shut them down completely, but we did a good job defensively. Their fullback and quarterback are as good as I have seen in a long time." He was quick to point out how well his own quarterback (R.M. George) performed and has progressed, "He set a school record for passing yards tonight, I’m extremely proud of him."

The Golden Lions offense opened the fourth quarter with five consecutive incomplete passes on their first three drives that eventually resulting in turning the ball over on downs followed by two punts. South Point took their first lead (28-24) of the game at the 9:57 mark on a brilliant 56 yard run by Trey Crenshaw. On the Red Raiders next possession Crenshaw broke free again, this time for a 53 yard gain inside the Shelby five where Tyler Bray eventually scored the final points of the game on a one yard run for the final score of 35-24.

Shelby’s final possession ended when a pass was tipped by a defender and then picked by Deion Jones.

Concerning the final quarter Shelby’s Coach Ware commented, "We had some missed assignments, and some key mistakes at times. We couldn’t get out of the hole but credit the South Point defense, they took away our running game and made us one dimensional and that was the key."

South Point had three players to gain over 100 yards rushing (Brooks 46 yards, Bray 125 yards, Crenshaw 124 yards) for the second week in a row on their way to totaling 478 rushing yards.

South Point will be at home again next week to host the Q Foundation while Shelby travels to Rutherfordton to face RS Central.

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