GOOSE CREEK — Goose Creek’s 38-game winning streak and its hopes for a second state title in the last three years came to a stunning end Friday night at John Fulmer Field.
South Pointe quarterback Zaylin Burris threw for one touchdown and had 140 yards of total offense as the Stallions shocked the third-ranked Gators, 30-27, Friday night before a standing-room-only crowd at Goose Creek High School.
South Pointe (10-2) will play at Stratford, a 30-14 winner over South Florence, in the Division II-AAAA Lower State finals next Friday night for the right to play for a state title.
A year ago, Goose Creek’s bid for a second consecutive state title ended in a courtroom as the Gators were thrown out of the postseason by the South Carolina High School League for using an ineligible player.
On Friday night, Goose Creek’s season came to an abrupt conclusion when the Gators turned the ball over twice in the first half and failed to establish a consistent running game, a staple of their option offense since head coach Chuck Reedy took over the program more than a decade ago.
South Pointe’s defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage as the Gators managed just 169 rushing yards on 39 attempts. The Stallions outrushed the Gators, 241-169, for the game.
“They have a very good football team and they have one of the best defensive lines we’ve seen in a while,” Reedy said. “We turned the ball over a couple of times in the first half, but in the second half they controlled the game. I give them all the credit in the world. We didn’t play as well as we needed to play. We needed to elevate our game and we didn’t do that.”
The missed opportunities for points in the second half will haunt the Gators in the offseason. Down 28-21, the Gators failed to score on a 4th-and-goal play from the two-yard line late in the third quarter. Needing two scores to win in the fourth quarter, the Gators got inside the red zone again trailing, 30-21, but a missed field goal ended that drive.
“We had our chances in the second half to get back in the game and we didn’t capitalize on them,” Reedy said. “We just couldn’t block their defensive line.”
Kaleb Kinlaw gave the Gators a brief glimmer of hope when he capped a 70-yard, nine-play drive with a 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 30-27 with 1:31 to play.
With three timeouts, Reedy elected to kick the ball deep instead of trying for an onside kick. The Stallions picked up a first down to run out the clock.
“We had three timeouts and if we make a stop, we get the ball back with more than a minute left in the game,” Reedy said. “I liked our chances better kicking it deep than trying for an onside kick.”
Trailing 17-7 midway through the second quarter, the Gators came storming back as fullback Evan McField scored on a 5-yard TD with 1:40 play before half.
The Gators got the ball back and went 67 yards in six plays with Jordan Barnes snagging a 3-yard TD pass from Dantez Bennamon to give the Goose Creek a 21-17 advantage going into the locker room.
“For a quarter and a half, I thought we played about as well as we can play,” said South Pointe coach Strait Herron. “But we gave Goose Creek an opening and they took advantage of it. It took them two minutes to get the lead back. It shows how explosive they can be. We came into the locker room and told the kids we needed to focus and play like we did in the first quarter for the rest of the game.”
S – Josh Brice 1 run (Kyle Dix kick)
G – Tyrik Johnson 4 run (Alex Jacobus kick)
S – Deshawn Davis 15 pass from Zaylin Burris (Dix kick)
S – Kyle Dix 30 FG
G – Evan McField 5 run (Jacobus kick)
G – Jordan Barnes 3 pass from Dantez Bennamon (Jacobus kick)
S – Breee Minor 17 run (Dix kick)
S – Dix 19 FG
S – Dix 25 FG
G – Caleb Kinlaw 1 run (kick failed)