By: Anthony Perkins
South Point Escapes Tough Eastern Guilford Team with 28-25 Win
BELMONT – The fourth round of the western brackets in the 3A State Playoffs delivered a hard-fought contest between the Eastern Guilford Wildcats and the host South Point Red Raiders on Friday evening. After trading the lead back and forth through the first three quarters, the Red Raiders surged ahead in the fourth quarter that helped them escape with a 28-25 victory.
The Wildcats got on the board at the end of their first drive with a 27-yard field goal by Conner Smith to take the first lead at 3-0. South Point’s first drive looked promising but a fumble near mid-field was recovered by Eastern Guilford where they started their second drive at their own 40-yard line but the South Point defense dug in and forced a punt after a three and out. The Red Raider offense fared no better on their next drive and after six plays the Wildcats had forced the first South Point punt for the contest.
Eastern Guilford’s next drive spilled over into the second quarter before South Point forced a Wildcat punt from the South Point 39. South Point’s Winter Kincaid got to the punter before he could get the kick off and Chanyce Ford picked up the blocked punt and raced 50-yards to the end-zone to push the Red Raiders into a 7-3 lead following Charlie Birtwistle’s point after kick.
After both teams traded possessions that went nowhere Eastern Guilford started their final drive of the first half at their own 27 with just under three minutes before the intermission. It took seven plays to advance the ball to the South Point four where fullback Jaiden Evans (26 carries, 148 yards) carried the ball into the end-zone from four yards out to push the Wildcats back into lead at 10-7 which they were able to take into the locker room at the half.
South Point had the first possession of the second half and went on a eight play, 61 yard drive that fullback Cam Medlock capped off with a 2-yard run to push the Red Raider back into the lead at 14-10. Eastern Guilford was looking to copy South Point’s initial second half drive but after driving to the South Point four-yard line, a fumble by Evans was recovered by South Point’s Josh Crowder to halt the Wildcat drive.
Following the Wildcat fumble, South Point was unable to make a first down and on the ensuing punt a bad snap sailed over the punters head but Aiden Ramirez was able to pick the ball up and get it back out to the ten before the Wildcat defenders pulled him down. Eastern Guilford’s Paul Thorne carried it in on first and goal from just inside the South Point ten to push the Wildcats back into the lead at 17-14.
After the ensuing kick, the Red Raiders started their next drive at their own 38 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter. That drive carried over into the fourth quarter before the Red Raiders recaptured the lead on an eleven-yard run by quarterback Patrick Blee that gave South Point a 21-17 lead.
Eastern Guilford advanced the ball to the South Point 29 on their next drive before the Red Raiders defense dug in and turned them over on downs with five minutes and change left on the clock. South Point then went on another long drive (10 plays, 71 yards) that Medlock finished off with another two-yard run to give the Red Raiders a little breathing room at 28-17 with only 1:21 left of the clock.
You might have thought the Wildcats were finished after the South Point kickoff pinned them down at their own three-yard line. But Wait A Minute! Eastern Guilford promptly went to work. Two runs that netted 25 yards was followed by an incomplete pass then a 58-yard completion from Tyreik Boyd to Steven Murray had the Wildcats on the Red Raider’s 12. Two plays later Boyd hooked up with Ryan Larkin for a six-yard scoring strike to keep hope alive for the Wildcats. A two-point conversion pass from Boyd to Paul Thorne was successful and South Point’s lead had been cut to only three points with a 28-25 count but only 24 ticks were left on the clock.
Eastern Guilford tried the only option open to them on the ensuing kick-off with an onside kick, but South Point’s Aaron Chaney came out the pile with the ball and the Red Raiders went into the victory formation to finish the game.
South Point finished the game with 266 rushing yards and 35 yards passing for a total of 301 yards. Fullback Cam Medlock was the top performer for the Red Raiders with 189 yards on 32 carries. Eastern Guilford’s offense out-performed the Red Raiders in yardage totals with 417 yards. The Wildcats netted 275 yards with their rushing attack and 142 yards through air while quarterback Tyreik Boyd went 10 for 17 with no interceptions.
East Lincoln defeated Kings Mountain by a score of 46-20 on the same evening and they will host South Point next Friday night with the winner advancing to the state championship game.