South rolls in Classic
CHARLESTON -- Huntington High's Toney Kitts had never scored a touchdown in his high school career, but his first came at a good time Saturday night as the South defeated the North, 43-14, in the North-South All-Star Football Classic at Laidley Field.
At first it looked like the North Bears would be able to knife through the South Cardinals at will.
Cookie Clinton of Martinsburg engineered a scoring drive that took only one minute and 38 seconds on the North's first possession, culminating with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Thane Cutter of Frankfort.
The South looked to answer, but Woodrow Wilson's Andrew Johnson and his offensive squad turned the ball over on downs at the North 8-yard-line.
Kitts got the South even, recovering a fumble in the end zone after Clinton had problems with the exchange with his running back.
"We noticed it was a busted play, we just saw the ball go up in the air," Kitts said. "It went right through the arms of Gage Gould (of Cabell MIdland), I saw it and jumped on it.
"It changed everything. After that we were ready to go."
The North then went through a few three-and-outs while the South turned the ball over on downs.
But Wahama quarterback Trenton Gibbs was able to put a strong drive together in the second quarter with both his arm and his legs, getting the South to a first and goal at the 9-yard-line.
From there, Winfield running back Seth Lewis took the ball up the gut for the score, putting the South up 14-7.
After another three-and-out from the North, the South looked to be in business again.
Gibbs hit Dustyn Murphy of Elkins on a 27-yard pass, and the Cardinals were set up on the Bears' 30 with just under a minute to go in the half.
Momentum proved fickle as Gibbs looked one way while Johnson, who had been moved to wide receiver, went the other way on fourth and five at the North 25-yard-line. Quashad Pugh of Wheeling Park picked the errant pass out of the air and went 82 yards the other way for a touchdown.
The South got off a Hail Mary from the North's 45 with four seconds left in the half, but the pass was broken up, and the teams entered the intermission tied.
"We told them at the half to just finish things," said South head coach Joe Dean. "We felt like we left a few touchdowns on the field in the first half."
Johnson ran for a touchdown and then hit South Charleston's Trevond Reese for a 34-yard passing score that saw Reese dazzle the crowd with a leap over a defender into the corner of the end zone.
Huntington High's Jarod Martin then caught a 25-yard TD pass from Johnson, who had all day to throw, in the fourth quarter.
The South's scoring was capped by Wayne's Brandon Spurlock, who took a hand off seven yards up the middle for a touchdown.
"As soon as I made that left cut, I saw it was there and I just smiled the whole way in," Spurlock said. "I just wanted to get one. This whole experience has been great and the team worked hard and we put a lot in.
"It's an honor to score in this game and I loved it."
Johnson, who finished with 78 rushing yards, and 190 passing yards to go with his three touchdowns, was named the MVP for the South squad. Clinton was named MVP for the North.
"This has just been the best week of my life," Johnson said. "Meeting new friends from the North and the South, playing football and just doing what I love, I don't know what to say, I just have to thank God for this opportunity."
The South has now won four straight in the Classic, and leads the overall series 38-19 with three ties.
NORTH 7 7 0 0 -- 14
SOUTH 7 7 14 15 -- 43
N -- Cutter 30 pass from Clinton (Wise kick), 10:22
S -- Kitts fumble recovery in end zone (Jordan kick), 6:01
S -- Lewis 9 run (Jordan kick), 4:23
N -- Pugh 82 interception return (Wise kick), :15
S -- Johnson 14 run (Jordan kick), 7:14
S -- Reese 34 pass from Johnson (Jordan kick), 3:59
S -- Martin 25 pass from Johnson (Bennett pass from Jordan), 7:08
S -- Spurlock 7 run (Jordan kick), 1:08
First downs 8 24
Rushes-yards 30-59 42-193
Passing yards 84 290
Passes 5-17-1 19-31-1
Fumbles-lost 6-2 2-2
Penalties-yards 3-15 2-10
Punts-average 5-32.2 1-40
RUSHING -- North: Clinton 18-45, Cox 5-34, Hathaway 2-9, Commodore 1-5, Barnhart 1-3, Team 3-minus-37. South: Johnson 13-78, Spurlock 7-38, Lewis 7-36, Gibbs 8-26, Reese 2-14, Moore 5-1.
PASSING -- North: Clinton 4-15-1, 77 yards; Cosper 1-1-0, 7 yards; Commodore 0-1-0. South: Johnson 11-14-0, 190 yards; Gibbs 8-16-1, 100 yards; Team 0-1-0.
RECEIVING -- North: Cutter 2-37, Cox 1-33, Commodore 1-13, Parker 1-1. South: Edwards 9-63, Reese 3-55, Murphy 3-49, Johnson 2-45, Reed 1-53, Martin 1-25.