By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
GULFPORT, Miss. —
The defense for the South was a big key in Saturday's 34-13 win over the North in the 64th annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic.
And a trio of local players made some important contributions to that solid effort.
The South overcame a 13-6 halftime deficit with four unanswered touchdowns, and the defense pitched a shutout in the final two quarters as well as the South took the win here at Milner Stadium.
The win gives the South, which won 37-10 last year, four wins in the last five games and a 30-26-4 lead in the series.
Pearl River Central linebacker Adam Perronne and Picayune defensive back Doug Cross both started for the South, and PRC defensive end Desmond Michel saw plenty of action as well in the win.
Perronne made seven tackles, including a sack and another big tackle for a loss, while Cross had a tackle and broke up a pass. Michel had a tackle and a quarterback hurry, and was also a key part of the special teams for the South as well.
"I thought our defense was dominant," Pearl River Central head coach Eric Collins, who served as the secondary coach for the South, said. "Adam had a great game. He made a lot of key stops and was all over the field making plays."
The South team took an early 6-0 lead when Jamel Hatten of Hattiesburg scored on a short run, but the North responded and tied the game at 6-6 on its second drive of the game when Charles Moore Jr. of Itawamba AHS cashed in from the two-yard line. The PAT was blocked by Perronne.
The North returned a fumble 46 yards in the second half to take the lead at intermission.
"We came out in the second half and scored and then got some stops," South head coach Tommy Clopton said. "After that we kind of took it to them."
The big second half for the South started with a one-yard scoring run by Demetrius Cain of Hazelhurst and 1-yard run by Jerome Keys of Bassfield putting the South ahead for good at 20-13.
The South defense caused three turnovers in the second half and capitalized on each one. Thomas Taylor of Purvis finished a 43-yard drive with a short scoring run with just 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
South quarterback Khadarel Hodge of Mendenhall, who was named the MVP, then hit Austin Watts of Sumrall on a 48-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Hodge completed all four of his passes for 101 yards, including the touchdown toss, and ran seven times for 27 yards.
Right before the final scoring play, Perrronne sacked North quarterback Horan Payne for a 12-yard loss with the North team inside the South 10-yard line. "I was just coming off the edge and saw the back and everybody go away," Perronne said. "I just stayed at home and there he was. We all talked about this being the last game in high school for all of us. I just wanted to go out and show them what I could do. And as a team, we wanted to go out with a win.