BURNS EDGES OUT SOUTH POINT 28-27 IN 2020/21 SEASON OPENING THRILLER
By: Anthony Perkins
Belmont – The South Point Red Raiders hosted the Burns Bulldogs in the season opener both teams at Lineberger Stadium on Thursday evening. The game was moved up a day because of the threat of heavy rains for Friday and most of next week.
A very limited crowd, due to COVID-19 restrictions, witnessed a back and forth, hard fought contest that saw the visiting Bulldogs walk away with a well earned 28-27 victory in what was also the Southwestern 2A Conference opener for both teams.
The Bulldogs drove the ball inside the South Point five on their first possession before the Red Raider defense stiffened to keep them out of the end zone and turn the ball over on downs. The Burns defense then held South Point to a three and out and a short punt by the Red Raiders gave the Bulldogs a short field to work with when they started their second drive at the South Point 38. Burns drew first blood on their second possession when fullback Lemont Wilson carried it in from four yards out. A two-point conversion run attempt failed thanks to a swarming Red Raider defense and the score stood at 6-0 with 7:19 remaining in the first quarter.
South Points Tyson Riley returned the ensuing kick-off 52 yards to the Burns 38 giving the Red Raiders excellent field position to start their second drive. Just over a minute into the second quarter South Point knotted the score at 6-6 when fullback Hunter Hogue carried it in from two yards out and Carson Smith’s PAT gave the Red Raiders a 7-6 lead.
Both teams scored on their next possessions. Burns surged into the lead with just over five minutes left in the half on a nine-yard run by Wilson for his second score of the contest. Another two-point run attempt was once again stopped short by the Red Raiders leaving Burns with a 12-7 lead. Just a shade over two minutes later South Point found the end-zone again when Will Rhinehart carried it in on a ten-yard quarterback keeper. Smith was true again on the PAT to give South Point a 14-12 lead.
The Bulldogs started their final possession of the first half at their own 20 with just under three minutes left on the clock. The Burns offense put together a dazzling, six play 80-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Cam’Ron Sweezy to slotback Ryan Thompson. Another two-point run conversion failed but the Bulldogs would take an 18-14 lead into the half.
South Point started the second half with the ball at their 35 after the opening kickoff sailed out of bounds and two plays later lightning struck in the form of a 71-yard touchdown run down the right side by running back Trevon Jones. Smith connected on his third extra point attempt to the push the Red Raiders back into the lead at 21-18.
The Burns offense went three and out on their first possession and their second possession started at their one-yard line after an excellent punt by Carson Smith. Burns netted one first down but a quarterback sack by South Point Jackson Risk pinned the Bulldogs back at their six when the clock ran out on the third quarter.
After one play in the final stanza the Bulldogs were forced to punt from their own end-zone and the Red Raiders took over at the Burns 36. The Bulldogs defense came to life and Chatlen Baccus, Lance Beattie, and Silas Tate respectively made the tackles on first, second and third down to hold the Red Raiders to a fourth and ten which forced a South Point punt.
The Burns offense answered by driving the ball inside the South Point ten but they had to settle for a 16-yard field goal by Ansley Camache to knot the score at 21-21.
Disaster struck for South Point on their following possession when quarterback Will Rhinehart coughed up the ball on the first play from scrimmage and the Bulldogs fell on the to give Burns a short field at the South Point 28. Five plays later Sweezy crossed the goal line on a four-yard quarterback keeper. After Camache added the extra point Burns held a 28-21 lead with just 3:37 left in the game.
Red Raiders started their final drive at their 34-yard line. An eight-play drive by the Red Raiders, assisted by two personal foul penalties by the Bulldogs, was capped off with a three-yard run by Hunter Hogue on a fullback dive play. With the score at 27-28 in favor of Burns, South Point coach Adam Hodge decided to go for a two-point conversion that would have given the Red Raiders the lead and a possible victory with only 53 seconds left to play. The conversion attempt failed when Hogue was stopped by at the line by a determined Burns defense sealing a 28-27 win for Burns.
After the game, South Point head coach Adam Hodge was well pleased with the performance of his team and he was asked about his decision to go for two. He replied, “I believe in this offense and I believe in these kids so we decided to go for it. Sometimes you guess right and things go well and unfortunately sometimes they don’t.” I know this was a heartbreaking loss for the Red Raiders but I think the coach’s confidence in his team could reap big rewards down the road; we will see.
Burns head coach, David Devine was also well pleased with his team’s effort for the evening. He said, “Anytime you come here you know you are going to be in for a fight and we feel fortunate to have won tonight. We made some plays when we had to and sometimes the ball just bounces your way.”
Next week South Point will travel to East Gaston and Burns will play Chase.