South Point and Belmont host Patriotism Bowl
Jacob Henderson and his daughter Hampton enjoying the South Point High Patriotism Bowl last Friday. Photo by John Wilson
by John Wilson
When the final seconds ticked off the clock at Lineberger Stadium the 8th Annual Patriotism Bowl came to an end with Clover beating South Point 34- 7.
While things didn’t turn out as the Red Raiders may have hoped, the Patriotism Bowl was still an overwhelming success for the Belmont community.
As it turned out, the Patriotism Bowl was more than just a football game it was a celebration of America.
The game was a chance for two communities, one from North Carolina, the other from South Carolina, to come together and share in an atmosphere filled with civic pride and love of country. Things that should unite all Americans.
The Patriotism Bowl is sponsored by the Carolinas Freedom Foundation.
The Carolinas Freedom Foundation was established with the goal of promoting citizenship, patriotism, and appreciation for the nation’s law enforcement veterans and first responders.
The Carolinas Freedom Foundation also sponsors the Patriotism Bowl to help fund scholarships and charities dedicated to helping veterans.
Normally the game is held as close to the anniversary of the September 11th attacks as possible. So far the game has featured schools from Mecklenburg, Iredell, Union, and Cabarrus counties.
Preparation for the game began six months ago when the Patriotism Bowl contacted South Point athletic director Kent Hyde about the possibility of South Point hosting this year’s game.
The Patriotism Bowl had heard about South Point’s rich football tradition and were interested in possibly expanding the game into Gaston County.
“Six months ago they asked if we were interested,” Hyde said. “Then they asked about our schedule.”
As it turned out the Red Raiders had a game scheduled for September 7th against the Clover Blue Eagles.
“We mentioned Clover and they thought it was a great idea,” Hyde added.
If the details could be worked out the 8th Annual Patriotism Bowl would feature the first school from Gaston County and it would be the first time that a North Carolina and South Carolina school played against each other in the bowl’s eight-year history event.
As it turned out the final details were worked out and the game was signed off on.
Hyde believes the game supports a great cause and presented an ideal opportunity to highlight what South Point and Belmont are all about.
“It’s great for the school, the city of Belmont and Gaston County,” coach Hyde explained. “It’s great for our community. Considering everything going on today with all the division in our country it’s great that we can come together and celebrate what is good about America.”
In the months and weeks prior to the game coach Hyde and others worked the logistics out.
Even though this was a home game for the Red Raiders, this game was going to feature both schools.
It was agreed upon that the Junior ROTC programs, cheerleading squads, and bands from both schools would all be featured in the pregame and halftime activities.
When the gates opened at 5:30 for a 7:30 kickoff much of the stadium was already filled.
The game hadn’t even started and the South Point student section was already getting revved up.
In the hours before kickoff, the South Point and Clover bands went out on the field and practiced what was to be a joint performance of the national anthem.
As the crowd filed into Lineberger Stadium they were met with an atmosphere reminiscent of the historic Army-Navy football game. The stadium was decked out with American flags and red white and blue banners.
The crowd was met by representatives of all of the United States Armed Forces along with many local first responders.
Recruiting booths were set up and the various service members talked to veterans and citizens alike about military service in the US Armed Forces.
There was something for everyone.
There was even a rock wall set up for kids to play on and an assortment of vehicles on display ranging from Humvees, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, and even a SWAT tactical vehicle.
The atmosphere was festive as people mingled and talked to each other along with the servicemen, paramedics, and police officers.
At the South end of the field, a small VIP pavilion was set up for local dignitaries. Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin stressed how important the game was to the community.
“I think it’s fantastic that we’re here to honor the veterans,” Martin said. “We should never forget that they put their lives on the line for our country.”
As the pregame activities kicked off a pair of parachutists from the US Army Special Forces Association did a free-fall parachute demonstration.
The skydivers jumped from about 5,000 feet. After a 30-second free-fall, the jumpers deployed their chutes and displayed the US flag along with the flags of all the branches of US Armed Forces.
The skydivers circled their way down from a clear blue sky and soared into the stadium with the crowd chanting, “USA, USA”.
The jumpers hit their mark at the 50-yard line as Lineberger Stadium erupted in cheers.
After the jumpers cleared the field the South Point and Clover bands took the field.
A 50 by 80 foot American flag on loan from Gander Mountain was unfurled on the North side of the field. The flag was held by the South Point JROTC and Red Raider cheerleaders.
The Clover JROTC members marched on to the field with flags from all 50 states.
A moment of silence was was observed followed by the playing of Taps. Taps is a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces.
A singer sang God Bless America and then as everyone was assembled on the field the South Point Red Raiders and Clover Blue Eagles bands delivered a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.
After the band cleared the field the team captains from both schools met at the center of the field and the game ball was delivered by a remote control drone.
South Point won the toss and chose to defer possession of the ball until the second half.
When Carson Smith kicked the ball off to start the game the stadium when nuts as the 8th Annual Patriotism Bowl was now underway.
Unfortunately for South Point, things got bad real quick.
As the South Point crowd looked on in shock Clover took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown.
That score set the pace for the rest of the game.
It was this was going to be a long night for Raider Nation.
South Point fought hard but Clover kept the Red Raiders in check.
Clover was up 20-0 at halftime.
The Red Raiders only mustered 26 yards of offense in the first half as the Blue Eagles shut down South Point’s normally potent triple-option run game.
During halftime, the Carolina Freedoms Foundation presented checks to various charities
As the second half got underway Clover continued to push on.
In the second half the Red Raiders moved the ball better finishing with 210 yards of offense
The Blue Eagles had their share of problems crop up.
Clover was penalized heavily throughout the game.
Despite their mistakes, Clover still managed to generate 311 yards of total offense.
The Red Raiders put their first point on the board in the fourth quarter when Hunter Hogue broke off a 17-yard touchdown.
Unfortunately, the Red Raiders were already down 27-0 when Hogue scored.
South Point’s score ended up having minimal impact on the direction of the game.
Shortly after the Hogue TD scored Clover scored yet again to put the score at 34-7.
South Point’s top offensive performance was turned in by wide receiver Ray Rose.
The Clover game marked Rose’s first action of the season after returning from a shoulder injury. Rose hauled in six passes for 101 yards.
There is no way to dress this loss up. This was a tough one for South Point.
Now the Red Raiders are going to have to regroup as they prepare for Forestview this week.
South Point head coach Adam Hodge was candid in what he thinks the team needs to do.
See PATRIOTISM, Page 11