South Point Ends Shelby’s Run At Another Undefeated Conference Schedule with a 28-16 Victory.
By: Anthony Perkins
Shelby – Thursday night was Senior Night for the Shelby Golden Lions (4-1, 4-0) as they hosted the South Point Red Raiders (4-2, 2-2) from Belmont. In what is usually a season ending confrontation for the usual top contenders in the Southwestern 2A Conference and “the game” that usually decides the conference champion, appeared to be just another game for the Golden Lions on their way to another conference championship. Shelby stood alone at the top of the conference without a conference loss and the last time they lost a conference contest was the last regular season game in 2017, to none other than the Red Raiders from South Point. Shelby’s opponents, the Red Raiders had suffered two losses (Burns and RS Central) with both losses coming down to missed extra points as the deciding factor. Those losses all but eliminated South Point from the playoffs and certainly eliminated the possibility of a conference championship.
However, as you know, the games are played on the field and not on paper. The visiting Red Raiders used a bone crushing, time eating rushing attack that gashed the Golden Lion defense for 402 yards and four touchdowns to propel them to a 28-16 win over their arch-rivals.
South Point’s first score came on their first drive (a six-yard run by quarterback Will Rhinehart) that consumed nearly eight minutes of the first quarter. Their second score and a 14-0 lead came on their next possession (a 19-yard run by fullback Tyson Riley) that spilled over into the second quarter after the Red Raider defense had stopped Shelby’s first drive with an interception at the South Point 33. Riley accumulated 142 yards on 28 carries for the evening, quarterback Will Rhinehart totaled 70 yards on 21 carries with the majority of those yards coming in the first half, and Omari Hunt accumulate 83 yards on just six carries.
Shelby came out on fire in the second half and on the first possession of the half used only five plays to travel 80 yards and notch their first score. The final 34 yards was the highlight of the drive with a pass over the middle from quarterback Gabe Huitt to Tyler Arrington. Marquis Adams was successful on a 2-point run cutting the Red Raider advantage to 14-8. Shelby drove the ball to the South Point 21 on their next possession but the drive ended on a fourth and ten pass that fell harmlessly incomplete.
As the clock rolled over into the fourth quarter South Point still held a 14-8 lead and Shelby was on the move again. On a third and five at the South Point 45, quarterback Gabe Huitt dropped back to pass but had the ball stripped by a Red Raider defender and Shane Wilson fell on the loose ball for the Red Raiders to end the Shelby threat.
South Point took full advantage of the Golden Lion mistake when Riley pushed the ball into the end-zone from one yard out. Riley also converted on a 2-point run to give the Red Raider’s a 22-8 lead with only five minutes remaining in the contest.
Shelby struck like lightening on their next possession using only three plays and just over a minute to cover 78 yards. Huitt capped off the drive with a 49-yard pass play to Arrington and fullback Omar Phillips converted on another two-point run for a 22-16 score.
On the ensuing kick-off the hearts of the South Point coaches, players and fans must have skipped a beat when the line drive kick squirted off the hands of Riley who was back to receive the kick but he fell on the ball at the South Point 24 to avert a possible catastrophe. Two play later Omari Hunt looked like he would be tackled for maybe a four or five yard gain but he escaped three would be Shelby defenders and raced 67 yards down the left side for the insurance touchdown. A two-point run attempt failed and keep the score at 28-16.
Shelby had one last gasp effort but it ended when a Gabe Huitt pass sailed over his receiver’s head and was picked by South Point’s Will Ross just past mid-field.
South Point totaled 402 yards will all of it coming off of their rushing attack. They moved the chains 21 times, had no turnovers but they were assessed 50 yards for six penalties.
Shelby gained 174 rushing yards and 201 yards passing for a total of 375 yards. Shelby moved the chains 17 times, was penalized 10 times for 81 yards and lost one fumble and tossed two interceptions.
After the game South Point’s Adam Hodge said, “We really needed this win tonight. I’m so happy for our team and for South Point. Tonight, we weren’t just playing Shelby, we played for each other and it paid off.”
Shelby head coach said, Mike Wilbanks said, “You can’t make mistakes and beat a good team and South Point is a good team. We needed to make some plays tonight, we didn’t, and they (South Point) did.”
Both teams complete the regular season next week with South Point being at home against Chase and Shelby will travel to East Rutherford.