MOBILE, AL – South All-Star place-kicker Nick Peerson’s 33-yard field goal with 25 ticks remaining on the clock lifted the South All-Stars to a 31-28 victory over the North All-Star quad Friday night at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the University of South Alabama campus.
The victory was the second in row for South and upped its lead in the series, that was first played in 1948, to 35-28-2. The North and South are now tied at two wins apiece in games played at Mobile. The AHSAA North-South Classic is managed by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
Peerson’s field goal capped a game-winning drive that was highlighted by South MVP Nick Clark of Daphne and D.J. Butler of Davidson. Clark finished with a game-high 102 yards rushing on 14 carries and scored twice to pace the South’s 261-yard team rushing total.
The South had 21 first downs and 327 total yards while the North had 18 first downs, 152 yards rushing and 167 through the air for 319 total yards.
The 65th game of the series was just that close.
Both teams swapped interceptions to open the game with North defensive back Ethan Wilder of Gordo intercepting South quarterback Caleb McCrary’s pass in the end zone to snuff out an impressive drive to open the contest.
South defensive back Joe Lott of UMS-Wright got the ball back four plays later with an interception of Hewitt-Trussville quarterback Peyton Floyd near midfield. The South picked up another turnover when the North fumbled a handoff exchange, and the South took over in good field position near midfield once again.
The North struck quickly on its next possession with completed passes of 28 yards from Floyd to Jonathan Bibb of Spain Park to the 16-yard line, Floyd followed on the next play with a 16-yard TD toss to Jay’Shon Ridgle of Athens in the end zone for the first score of game early in the second quarter.
The South All-Stars tied the game at 7-7 with 11:07 remaining in the second quarter when Daphne’s Clark streaked through a gaping hole off right tackle for a 42-yard touchdown run.
Team North took the lead almost by accident when the South lined up inside their 15 and prepared to punt from the end zone. The North defense wasn’t set but hurried to the line of scrimmage and arrived just as the ball was snapped to Peerson of Charles Henderson, who also handled the punting duties. He was swarmed and tried to get rid of the ball, but his lateral pass was recovered in the end zone for a North touchdown by Ramsay defensive lineman Demarcus Wynn. It was Wynn’s second fumble recovery of the game.
The South answered back quickly thanks to a strong kickoff return by Gulf Shores’ Ronnie Royal, who got a 15-yard boost with a facemask penalty which moved the ball to the North 28-yard line. On the first snap, Booker T. Washington’s E.J. Hall took a reverse pitch around right end and streaked through the defense for as 28-yard touchdown to even the score at 14 all.
The North came out strong in the third period to take the lead at the 6:46 mark on a 5-yard run by North MVP Da’Marion “Fluff” Bothwell of Oneonta, who lined up in the wildcat. His score came on the heels of big block by Jerrell Brasher of Gadsden County to put the North up 21-14.
The South roared right back, however, thanks to some strong running by Clark and a key reverse by B.T. Washington’s E.J. Hall. Clark got his second TD of the game racing 29 yards into the endzone. He finished with 53 yards receiving and a score on four catches while rushing for 28 yards on two carries for a second touchdown and added a 10-yard punt return.
South kicker Nick Peerson recovered his own onside kick on the following kickoff near midfield and Hall gave his team the lead seven plays later snagging a 6-yard TD pass from McCreary with 57 seconds left in the third period to take a 28-21 lead into the final frame.
The North tied the score in the fourth quarter with Bothwell in the wildcat slot again scoring on a 3-yard run for his second TD. Bothwell finished with 30 yards on 14 carries, but more importantly, he got the tough yards on the goal line when the North needed them.
Floyd completed 15-of-25 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown and while running for 59 yards on 14 attempts. He was intercepted three times. Ken Cherry of Madison Academy had 32 yards on five carries, and Helena’s Jordan Washington had 31 yards on five carries. Oxford’s Camare’ Hampton had five catches for 68 yards, and Thompson’s Deuce Oliver had three for 39 yards.
McCreary finished 5-of-12 passing for the South for 39 yards and a score. Kolton Nero of Foley rushed for 42 yards on eight carries, Butler had 41 yards on seven attempts, and Josh Flowers of Baker had 45 yards on five carries.