RED SPRINGS — The matchup in Red Springs on Friday night against South Columbus lived up to the expectations that come with a heavyweight meeting between two of the top teams in the Three Rivers Conference, and the team that has ruled the conference over the past three season asserted itself in the second half.
Despite a 15-point halftime deficit, the Stallions stayed true to its style of play in the second half on both sides of the ball to win their conference opener in a 32-28 win over the Red Devils.
Red Springs (2-1, 0-1 TRC) scored all of its points in the second quarter and took a 28-13 lead into the halftime break, but South Columbus (3-0, 1-0 TRC) showed its experience and power on the defensive side of the ball to quiet the Red Devils.
“It felt like we stopped playing hard,” Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches said. “We went flat. I don’t know if it’s just because the guys are not used to playing with a lead like that or what.”
Red Springs posted 80 yards of total offense in the second half with drives that failed to find the end zone, including two drives in the final two minutes of the game that ran out of downs on one occasion, and ran out of time on the final try.
“We just got stuck,” Ches said. “We were forced to cut down our plays to a few that our players knew because we have such a young team.
“And we had like seven or eight plays that I could name where we had breakdowns.”
With its defense stopping drives, the Stallions used big plays to set up scores in the fourth quarter to shrink the gap, and to take the lead.
South Columbus’ Trequan Bellamy returned a punt deep in his own territory, and gave his team good field position when he was tackled inside the Red Springs red zone. The Stallions scored moments later on an Aveon Bellamy touchdown to make it a 28-26 Red Devil lead.
Trequan Bellamy aided another drive the next offensive series for South Columbus when he broke a run up the middle free for 80 yards to set the Stallions inside the Red Springs 10-yard line. Letrell Brown punched the go-ahead score in with 6:22 left on a one-yard dive.
“I don’t know if our guys are good at putting the dagger in people right now,” Ches said. “We had them beat.”
Trequan Bellamy had a game-high 153 yards and a touchdown that came on a 27-yard carry in the second quarter.
In that second quarter, the Red Devils offense looked unstoppable at times as it scored on all four of its drives. Junior quarterback Denym McKeithan accounted for most of the offense in the loss and had a part in three of the four touchdowns.
McKeithan connected with Keagan Brayboy twice for touchdown passes of 22 and 6 yards. The latter of the two came as time expired in the second quarter to give the Red Devils the halftime advantage. The quarterback also scored a rushing touchdown from six yards out to put Red Springs up 12-6 midway through the second quarter.
In total, McKeithan completed eight passes for 83 yards, while rushing a team-high 16 times for 96 yards.
Senior running back Jayshawn Carthen scored the third touchdown of the game for the Red Devils to go along with his 75 yards. He also added two interceptions in the game, one came in the end zone in the first quarter when the Stallions were threatening to score.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.