By Carey Phillips
South Point, the 13th seed, outlasted fourth-seeded Smoky Mountain 42-35 Friday in the first round of the state 2-AA football playoffs at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
Devon King gained 86 yards in 12 carries for the Red Raiders. Will Rhinehart completed six of eight passes for 98 yards.
Ray Rose, a North Carolina commit, caught five passes for 95 yards. He carried two times for 76 yards.
Dustin Stephens carried 23 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns for the Mustangs (8-4). He caught three passes for 36 yards.
Will Frady finished with 20 carries for 87 yards. He set a school record for career rushing yards with 3,346.
Caleb Lominac completed four of 10 passes for 45 yards.
The Raiders scored a pair of touchdowns on short drives in the third quarter to open a 35-14 lead.
King broke a tackle on the second half kickoff and had a 60-yard return to the 20. He had an 11-yard run before Naseem Jones scored from the 3. Carson Smith, who was six of six on extra points, made it 28-14 with 9:37 on the clock.
Derrick Farmer fumbled the ensuing kickoff with Zion Holley recovering at the 34. On fourth-and-4, Rhinehart completed a 28-yard TD pass to Rose for the 35-14 margin at the 7:53 mark.
SM put together a 79-yard drive in 14 plays after the kickoff. Frady started it with a 28-yard run, and Stephens kept it going by picking up 4 yards on fourth-and-3. Stephens scored from a yard out, and the first of Hunter Pressley’s three PATs cut the gap to 35-21 with 27.9 seconds remaining in the third period.
Danner Hill blocked Dylan Nicks’ punt, and Cole James recovered for a touchdown narrowing the deficit to 35-28 with 11:04 to go in the game.
South Point drove 47 yards in nine plays following the kickoff. Rhinehart completed passes of 10 and 14 yards to Rose. King’s 5-yard TD run increased the lead to 42-28 with 6:21 on the clock.
SM responded with an 80-yard drive in six plays. Stephens caught a screen pass from Lominac that went for 26 yards and had a 27-yard run. Frady’s 4-yard TD run left the Mustangs down 42-35 with 3:45 to play.
The Raiders recovered an onside kick but turned the ball over on downs at the 38 with 2:37 remaining.
The Mustangs drove to the South Point 42, where they faced fourth-and-1. Frady appeared to pick up the first down yardage, but he fumbled with Ben Lunsford recovering at the 34 to seal the win for the Raiders.
After an exchange of punts to start the game, SM marched 46 yards in five plays. Lominac had a 14-yard run ahead of Stephens 27-yard TD run. A mishandled snap on the extra point kept the score 6-0 with 4:38 remaining in the opening quarter.
South Point answered with a 73-yard drive in 11 plays. Hunter Hogue gained 15 yards, but the key play was a 34-yard pass from Rhinehart to Rose on fourth-and-7. Jones scored from a yard out on the first play of the second period putting his team up 7-6.
The Raiders forced a punt and went 62 yards in just four plays. Omari Hunt had an 11-yard run before King broke free on a 48-yard run for a 14-6 lead with 8:09 on the clock.
The Mustangs were forced to punt but got the ball back when Colin Crowe recovered Rhinehart’s fumble at the South Point 32.
Frady gained 11 yards, and Stephens scored from the 9. Frady’s conversion run tied it 14-14 at the 4:59 mark.
On the first play after the kickoff, Rose took a pitchout, broke a tackle and raced 73 yards to the end zone putting the Raiders up 21-14 with 4:23 on the clock.