MOBILE, Ala. - With rain soaking the Ladd-Peebles Stadium turf from near the get-go, points proved tough to come by in the 2009 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
In the first half that is. In the second half, Alabama went to the air.
Mississippi led the 23rd annual game 3-0 at the half, but Alabama got touchdown passes from both its quarterbacks in the second half and an interception returned for a touchdown by Gadsden City's Dale Trimble to win the game for the 10th time in 12 games, 21-13 in front of a national television audience on VERSUS.
“We really couldn't throw the ball,” said Aberdeen's Jamerson Love, a Mississippi State commitment who started at defensive back. “They were stuffing the run. There was nothing else we could do. You've got to go hard every play. That's what we tried to do, but we came up short.”
Mississippi coach Anthony Hart, of Lafayette County, saw his team pull within 21-13 when Dominique Sullivan found Louisville receiver Markese Triplett for a 38 yard touchdown with 1:22 to play. Mississippi then got the onside kick, but managed only a 3 yard catch from Sullivan to Shannon's Keon McGaughy before turning the ball over on downs.
“You've got a shot right there and we just didn't capitalize,” Hart said. “It wasn't because of lack of effort. Those kids played hard. I'm proud of our guys. They represented us real well.”
Yards were tough to come by on either side. Mississippi managed only 44 yards in the game. Alabama totaled 138.
For Mississippi, South Panola running back Nicholas Parker led the way on the ground with 23 yards on eight carries.
Alabama managed only one first down in the first half, but came out of the halftime locker room, drove 71 yards on 11 plays and quarterback Coty Blanchard, Alabama's Gatorade Player of the Year, found Maudrecus Humphrey for the game's first touchdown, a 21 yard strike that helped the Alabama all-stars to a 7-3 lead with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to play in the third.
At midfield on its first drive of the fourth quarter, Alabama quarterback Daryl Norris scrambled nearly sideline to sideline and found Solomon Patton for a 13-0 lead on a 50 yard connection. Jorge Santamaria's point after made it 14-3.
On Mississippi's next offensive play, Trimble picked off Sullivan and went 36 yards for the game's third touchdown and a 21-3 lead.
“I was real proud of our kids. I thought they did a good job of repsponding to what we asked them to do in the second half,” Alabama coach Josh Niblett of Hoover said. “Our defense played great all day, so they gave the offense a great opportunity and we had better field position in the second half.”
Mississippi scored first, a 29 yard field goal from George County kicker Will Scott with 69 seconds to play in the first half. Mississippi's 11-play, 26-yard drive was helped by a 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 from Parker and an Alabama illegal procedure on another fourth-and-1 later in the drive. Scott missed a 34 yard field goal, but a second Alabama illegal procedure gave him another shot five yards closer. Itawamba defensive back Asian Ruff picked off Blanchard three plays after the score, but Mississippi was forced to punt with 33 seconds left on the clock. Steve McNair Jr's. 57-yard punt return led to Mississippi MVP Scott's second field goal, a 27 yarder with 6:07 left in the game.
“We couldn't move the ball too good,” West Point defensive lineman and Mississippi State-commitment Curtis Virges said. “Being an all-star, I wanted to represent my state real good. I don't feel I did as well as I wanted to do.”
Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal