South downs North, 43-14
CHARLESTON – The North proved to be its own worst enemy Saturday night during the 60th North-South All Star Football Class at the University of Charleston’s Laidley Field as the South made it four in a row with a 43-14 victory.
Three second-half turnovers by the North were turned into 22 points by the Cardinals as the South improved to 38-19-3 overall in the series.
The South opened the second 24 minutes of action with a score as Woodrow Wilson’s Andrew Johnson culminated a six-play, 54-yard drive with a 14-yard scamper around left end.
Buffalo’s Levi Jordan set up the drive with an 18-yard interception return and added his third PAT of the game to end it.
Costly turnovers continued to haunt the North as a Logan Cox fumble resulted in a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive by the Cardinals.
South Charleston’s Trevond Reese hauled in a 34-yard pass from Johnson for the six points and Jordan added another point-after to push the margin to 28-14 with 3:59 left in the third quarter.
The North’s hole continued to grow when Wahama’s Trenton Gibbs overcame a Bears’ rush and found Huntington’s Jarod Martin all alone in the end zone for the Cards’ third touchdown of the half. Jordan then hit Richwood’s Zach Bennett for the two-point conversion to push the margin to 36-14 with 7:08 left to play.
The Bears cracked the scoreboard first when quarterback Cookie Clinton from Martinsburg connected with Frankfort’s Thane Cutter at the South eight-yard line and the 190-pounder dragged several defenders with him into the end zone to culminate the 30-yard score.
Parkersburg South’s Cox came up with the big play during the five-play drive when the former Patriot hauled in a 33-yard pass from Clinton to give the North a first-and-10 at the 28.
Berkeley Spring’s Zach Wise, who will play at Shepherd University next fall, added the PAT to give the North a 7-0 lead with 10:22 left in the first half.
It would be a short-lived lead however.
Led by the passing and running of Johnson, the Cardinals took the ensuing kickoff and marched down to the North’s 11.
Martin ended the drive on the next play when he recovered a Trevond Reese fumble at the eight.
Three plays later, the North returned the favor when a bad snap on 3rd-and-7 ended up in the arms of Huntington’s Tony Kitts in the end zone for six points for the South. Jordan put in the point-after to knot the score at 7-7 with 6:01 showing on the clock.
Those would be the final points of the opening 12 minutes, but not the last points of the first half.
Winfield’s Seth Lewis gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game when the 215-pound running back pounded his way in from nine yards out with 4:23 left in the first half. Jordan, who was pressed into the kicking duties during the week, added the PAT to give the hosts a 14-7 lead.
A lead that appeared to be headed to 21-7 before an 82-yard interception return by Wheeling Park’s Quashad Pugh turned the tide of momentum in favor of the North with 15.6 seconds left until the intermission.
Winning the Nate Wright Award as the top player for the North was Clinton while Johnson took home the Rat Thom Award as his team’s top performer.
Local award winners included Parkersburg High’s Victoria Bratke (cheerleader) and St. Marys gridder Derek Barnhart (North-South Scholarship). Former Ravenswood High School standout Luke Salmons, now the head coach at Cabell Midland, received the Football Coach of the Year award during halftime ceremonies.
Parkersburg Catholic’s Hannah Reifsteck was named North Queen for 2013.