By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
GULFPORT – Aberdeen wide receiver Erik Buchanan looked into a bright mid-afternoon sun, but he could still see the ball coming his way.
Scott Central cornerback Jimmie Bloomfield, who was covering Buchanan, had his eyes fixed on the fade pass from Ridgeland quarterback Brantley Adams, too.
Bloomfield, who leaped at the same time Buchanan did, intercepted the pass at the South goal-line with 35 seconds remaining to seal his team’s 24-17 victory in the 61st annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic football game.
Adams “threw it a little behind me,” Buchanan said, shaking his head on the sideline. “Hey, we played them hard ... I’ll say that.”
The North trailed 24-3 heading into the fourth quarter before rallying to cut the South lead to seven points on scores by Clinton offensive lineman Justin Barner, a fumble recovery, and a 3-yard run by Madison Central fullback/tight end Will Bryan.
“Had we scored, we were going for two,” said North coach Lance Pogue of 6A state champion South Panola. “We fought our way back in it; we just came up short.”
Bloomfield’s steal thrilled many of the 3,500 fans at Milner Stadium who had earlier cheered a passing clinic offered by Dylan Favre, the St. Stanislaus quarterback and nephew of Brett Favre.
The younger Favre, who passed for 5,589 yards and 63 touchdowns in leading the Rock-a-chaws to a Class 4A state championship earlier this month, completed 24 of 30 passes to nine receivers for 254 yards and one TD to win the South’s MVP honor.
“We knew coming in we were going to throw it,” said Favre, who completed 12 consecutive passes to begin the game and connected on 16 of 20 for 171 yards in the first half. “Their defense didn’t allow us to run the ball. Everything we called in the passing game worked.”
However, it was a deflected pass that was intercepted by the North at the South 35-yard line that allowed the North its shot at the end of the game.
Favre’s 3-yard strike to Forest’s LaVadius Lyles gave the South a 14-3 lead with 3:28 left in the second quarter.
“He was the difference in the game,” Pogue said of Favre.
Lyles, who served as the South’s backup quarterback, gave his team a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 5-yard run from a wide receiver spot.
Favre completed 4 of 4 passes for 52 yards and had a 12-yard rush for a first down on a third-and-10 play in the 70-yard, 7-play scoring drive.
He also rushed for 24 yards and scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter to give his team a 24-3 lead.
Dylan Sobiesk kicked a 39-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the South a 17-3 halftime lead.
- North running back Domonique Carothers, who rushed for 78 yards on 15 carries was his team’s MVP. ... Aberdeen’s Buchanan had one catch for six yards. It came on the North’s final drive. ... West Point wide receiver Michael Carr caught six of the North’s nine receptions for 56 yards. ... The South was held to 24 yards rushing.