TABOR CITY — Trequan Bellamy and the South Columbus football team were ready and St. Pauls was not. That’s how St. Pauls senior quarterback Noah Wheeler boiled down the 49-13 loss on the road for the Bulldogs on Friday night.
In what was set to be the game of the year to this point in the Three Rivers Conference with two 3-0 teams meeting in Tabor City, the three-time defending champs of the conference had been in the situation before, and looked it in the blowout win.
“Nobody came in here with energy. We just came out here just sitting and around and started moping around,” Wheeler said. “Everybody just started getting their heads down.”
Bellamy did his job on both sides of the ball for the Stallions (6-0, 4-0 TRC) with 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns and a defensive score with an 86-yard pick six in the second quarter, as the Stallions made the most of early St. Pauls miscues.
“We came in and played hard and kept our focus,” he said. “We kept our edge. I was physically and mentally prepared for this.”
The junior running back sat in the shadow of Dennis Leggett last year and took advantage of the big stage on Friday to prove that he was no stranger to playing big.
“I’m trying to take up behind him, by being better than him,” Bellamy said.
The tone of the game was set against St. Pauls (3-3, 3-1 TRC) right from the get-go, when the Bulldogs muffed the opening kickoff and South Columbus took over. Bellamy and the Stallions made quick work, scoring two plays later on a one-yard dive from Seth Buffkin.
“We were dealt with a lot of adversity, and I feel like we were prepared for what they did,” St. Pauls coach Ernest King said. “Anytime you let a team beat you in one dimension, it’s not the kids, it’s me.
“It did set the tone. It showed that they were more ready and more focused than we were.”
Buffkin and Bellamy accounted for six of the seven touchdowns in the win. A 35-yard scamper from quarterback Robby Spencer in the second quarter made it a 35-0 game with 1:03 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs’ first score came on the following kickoff when Keraun McCormick scored on a 70-yard kickoff return, and the Stallions drove quickly going 52 yards in 53 seconds to take the lead to 42-7 at halftime, following a Buffkin touchdown run.
A week after playing up to its expectations in the second half against Fairmont, the Bulldogs showed digression in the eyes of their coach.
“Honestly, I feel like we took a step back offensively, defensively and on special teams,” King said. “When things like that happen, I take it on me.”
St. Pauls had 157 yards of total offense with Wheeler rushing for 82 yards and a last-minute touchdown. Caleb Inman added 64 yards on the ground. Along with the fumble on the opening kickoff, the Bulldogs turned the ball over three times on offense.
Next week, St. Pauls travels to West Columbus, South Columbus goes to East Columbus.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.