CONWAY -- The North's 26-10 victory over the South in the 60th annual South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association North-South All-Star Game Saturday was as easy as the final score showed.
The blow that did in the South came at the 8:42 mark of the third quarter. North Myrtle Beach kicker Ryan Quigley was back to punt and the North came with a hard rush.
Westside's Darrell Zellars raced through the line and blocked the kick. Clover's Tré Turner grabbed the ball and returned it 11 yards for a 20-3 North lead.
"That was my second touchdown in high school,'' said Turner, who helped lead Clover to the Class AAAA Division II state championship last week in Columbia. "The first was last year against Fort Mill; picked up a fumble and ran it in.
Never miss a local story.
"Our defense had a great game. We became a unit at our first practice. That says a lot about the type of players on our team. To play that well and to come from around the state, it was great.''
The North won its third straight and pushed its lead in the series to 34-24-2.
The tone of the game was set in the first half, which ended 14-3 in favor of the North. The Blue team never lined up inside the red zone, but passed through it twice on its way to a pair of touchdowns.
The South, on the other hand, was there three times and managed only a 25-yard field goal from Quigley in the opening quarter. In other words, it wasn't a good day for the South's offense.
The South was at the North 7-yard-line twice and the 1 once.
The first trip came on the South's initial possession and ended when Quigley attempted his first 25-yard field goal, which bounced off the left upright.
The other journey into scoring position was the hardest to take for the team in white. The South moved to the North 6 on a 24-yard pass from Strom Thurmond quarterback Aramis Hillary to Dillon's Jonathon Wright.
Three straight runs moved the ball to the 1. On fourth down, Hillary, who has committed to South Carolina, ran his second consecutive sneak. The middle of the North's defensive line rose up and stopped him in his tracks by Greenville's Arterio Arnold and Zellars.
"The North's defense was very quick,'' Hillary said. "We had heard they were good, but didn't expect them to be that fast. They were physical and put some hard hits on us that kept us out of the end zone."
Quigley's field goal put the South up 3-0 at the 8:20 mark of the first quarter. His kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback and the North started at its 20.
The North covered 80 yards in 10 plays. The drive ended when T.L. Hanna quarterback Tyler Brennan hooked up with Blythewood receiver Charles Wright for a 45-yard touchdown. Wright caught the ball between defenders Travis Wells of Conway and Richland Northeast's Leonard Paulk in the middle of the field near the 10 before racing into the end zone.
Newberry's Eric Davis nailed the PAT for a 7-3 North lead.
"We were on probation and couldn't defend our title this year,'' Wright said. "This was my state championship ... kind of helped some of the hurt go away.
"I wasn't surprised that we won. We wanted it bad, worked hard all week to make things smooth. It was fun and a week I'll never forget.''
The North capped the first-half scoring after thwarting another South attempt to reach the end zone. The South wasn't as close this time, but no matter. Hillary was forced to go most of the game because Hanahan quarterback John Carnell was injured in practice.
Tyler Boyd came into the game after Hillary twisted his right ankle. He said it was fine as he limped toward his teammates in the South end zone after the game.
Just before the first half ended, Hillary misfired on a pass to the left flat. Gaffney's Johnny Woods got a hand on the ball, it was tipped by Abbeville's Toquavius Gilchrist and the ball ended up in the arms of Greenwood's Michael Coates.
Once the ball was secured, Coates turned and ran the ball 62 yards for the North's second touchdown. Davis converted again and the North led 14-3 with 34.2 seconds left before the break.
The theme continued in the second half when the South stalled again near scoring range. The ball was 4 yards short of the red zone when Quigley was sent out to attempt a 41-yard field goal. The kick sailed wide left, leaving Quigley 1-for-3 on the day.
With 4:05 left in the third quarter, the South finally broke out of its funk and scored on a 2-yard run by Myrtle Beach's Eddie Jones. Quigley's point-after halved the score to 20-10.
The North added another touchdown, getting on the board for the final time when Westside's Montez Hatten scored on a 1-yard run with 6:39 remaining.
When the game ended, North coach Ron Blackmon, from North Central, stood to one side and thanked his players for winning the game. One credited it to the play-calling. Another told Blackmon he loved him.
"This is a good feeling, to win this game,'' he said. "Except for the mistakes, it was your typical all-star game. I liked how hard our guys played. Character is something you can't coach.''
• NOTES: The North's MVPs were Coates and Hatten. Jones and Stratford's Sherman Missick were selected MVPs of the South.
• LOCALS: Turner led the way with his touchdown but did not make a tackle.
Clover's Chris Douglas had five carries for 14 yards. Chester's Gene McCaskill ran for 5 yards on one carry and had two catches for 19 yards. Chester's Terrell Springs had one tackle. Great Falls' Jeremy Simpson had one pass breakup. Lewisville's Antwan Robinson had one tackle.