With its explosive offense limited for much of the night, the South High defense was more than willing to pick up the slack against North on Friday night.
The visiting Rebels returned two interceptions for a touchdown, had a third return nullified by penalty and forced five total turnovers in a 22-13 win over North in the annual Sword Game, which also served as each team's regular season finale.
Damareyah Wafford got things started on North's opening drive. After intercepting a tipped pass, Wafford cut left and found a wide open field. He then shed a tackle attempt by Stars quarterback Carson Bennett at the 30 yard line and coasted into the end zone for a 95-yard touchdown.
"I did my back peddle, I saw the ball, he tipped it, I caught it and just ran," Wafford said. "I almost got caught but I kept my ground and I scored for the team."
After South got its lone offensive touchdown, a 2-yard King Ellis run to take a 14-13 fourth quarter lead, Hassin Lopez all but put the game away, swiping a pass and returning it 38 yards for a score. The Rebels then made it a two-possession game by converting a two-point conversion.
Tyrone Wilson had a 90-plus yard interception return of his own taken away by an illegal block in the back. Wilson also intercepted a pass in the third quarter.
"It was a great performance by our defense," said South coach Cary Mills, whose team also recovered a fumble. "Tonight the defense showed up and really did their part to win this game."
South closes the regular season with four straight wins to finish 4-1.
North actually got into the red zone on its first four drives, converting the second two on Kai Shaw touchdown runs.
Shaw gained 86 of his 153 first-half yards on one carry, exploding through a massive hole on the first play of a North drive that began at its own 6-yard line.
He scored his first touchdown from a yard out to cap the drive, then added a second first-half score on a 6-yard run that gave the Stars a 13-7 halftime lead.
But offense was much harder to come by in the second half, as the Stars gained just two first downs, one coming by penalty.
"We're a younger team, and it kind of showed in the second half," said North coach Richie Bolin, whose team finishes the spring 2-3. "That's something our guys are going to grow and learn from. It burns for them, so I expect us to learn and grow from that. We have a lot of young guys and I'm pretty excited for them."