On a crisp day at the Cramton Bowl, eight Mississippi Gulf Coast high school football players took the field with their Mississippi teammates and waged battle with the Alabama All-Stars in the 30th annual Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic.
In the end, Alabama proved to be too much, knocking off Mississippi 25-14 on Saturday. Alabama improved its record to 22-8 in the series.
The game didn’t start out the way Mississippi wanted, with Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III of R.E. Lee High returning the opening kickoff for a 90-yard touchdown.
Alabama increased its lead to 10-0 with a 38-yard field goal at the 7:35 mark of the first half.
However, Mississippi lit the scoreboard with 3:14 left in the half when Columbus’ Kylin Hill scored from 9 yards out, making it 10-7.
The momentum was short-lived as Alabama added to its lead just before halftime on a 32-yard field goal by Jake Lane just 32 seconds before the half.
Mississippi made adjustments at halftime and tightened its defense to slow Alabama down early in the third quarter.
With 9:03 left in the quarter, Clinton’s Kam White intercepted Bubba Thompson and scored on a 49-yard return to put Mississippi ahead 14-13.
Each defense came up with stops throughout the rest of the quarter.
Lane returned the lead to Alabama with a 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Another strong stand by Thomas Johnston and the Alabama defense forced a Mississippi punt from the 5-yard line and led to a safety. The snap went over the head of the punter and out of the end zone to give Alabama two more points and an 18-14 lead.
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa’s Brian Robinson scored on a 13-yard run with 3:07 left in the game for a 25-14 Alabama lead.
“We had a real successful week and I learned a tremendous amount from everyone around me,” said St. Stanislaus quarterback Myles Brennan, who completed 11 of 15 passes for 59 yards. “The game did not end how we wanted it but it was fun. When you have a skill offense, there needs to be a rhythm and we were not able to get into one. The speed of the game was increased and I got a taste of what the next level will be like.”
Added SSC tight end Chase Rogers: “Today gave us all a feel of what it will be like. I am looking forward to playing with and against some of these guys in the future. It was a great week around all the coaches and athletes.”
Clinton five-star running back Cam Akers was 2-for-3 for 45 yards and an interception. He rushed for 67 yards.
Hattiesburg’s Jordan Murphy caught seven passes for 78 yards while George County’s Tyrese Fryfogle had four catches for 25 yards. Austin Williams of Ocean Springs caught one pass for 2 yards while Rogers caught one for minus-2 yards. Linemen Jacob Shoemaker (Harrison Central), Conner Estes (East Central), Paul Gainer (Gautier) and James Jackson (Pascagoula) were the other Coast players in the game.
Hill led Mississippi in rushing with 18 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Willie Gay and J.J. Russell of Grenada each had seven tackles to lead Mississippi.
Hill was named the Lefty Anderson Most Valuable Player for Mississippi while Thomas Johnston of Spanish Fort was Alabama’s MVP.
Robinson led Alabama in rushing with eight carries for 30 yards and a touchdown. Thompson was 7-for-16 passing for 71 yards and an interception while Noah Igbinoghene had four receptions for 44 yards.
Johnston, Alabama’s all-time leader in tackles with 678, led Alabama with 16 tackles.