CHARLESTON — A game that featured the most points in North-South history was won by a defensive stop in the final minute.
Juwan Jones-Wright ran for 105 yards on 15 carries and scored three second-half touchdowns, including the tie-breaking score with 6:10 left in the game Saturday night, as the North ended years of frustration with a 42-35 victory in front of an estimated 3,000 fans at University of Charleston Stadium.
The high-scoring affair wasn’t decided until North linebacker Phillip Keller of Jefferson stopped South running back C.J. Perkins shy of a first down on fourth-and-1 at the North 25 with 50 seconds remaining in the game.
The outcome halted a six-game win streak for the South, which leads the all-time series 40-20-3.
“I’m so happy for the North,’’ said Ryan Wilson of Clay-Battelle, the North coach. “We kept telling these kids that they were outworking them all night, and these kids bought into what we told them all week long. We worked them hard, and these kids believed. We had such a great time, and I hate to leave these kids. We had a great family, a brotherhood out there. We’re going to enjoy this one tonight.’’
Robert C. Byrd’s Jones-Wright, who had TD runs of 15, 4 and 3 yards in the second half, was selected as the MVP for the North in a media vote. The South’s MVP was George Washington receiver Druw Bowen, who caught seven passes for 172 yards and two TDs, connections of 51 and 7 yards with Man quarterback John Thomas Keffer.
Despite rolling up 482 total yards, the South never led, but did forge ties at 21, 28 and 35.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Perkins (South Charleston) with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter earned the South its final tie at 35-all.
The North then moved 65 yards in eight plays — all on the ground — with Jones-Wright barreling into the end zone from 3 yards on a fourth-and-goal play midway through the final period. The big gain in the drive was a 20-yard QB keeper by Petersburg’s Ryan VanMeter, with 15 yards tacked on for a facemask violation.
The South had two more chances for the equalizer after that.
The first possession ended in an interception by North defensive back Marcus Lofton (Buckhannon-Upshur) at his own 15 with 5:49 left. After the South forced a punt, it took over at its own 36 with 3:27 remaining.
Runs of 15 and 8 yards by Perkins helped place the ball at the North 26, but Perkins was held to a yard on third-and-2 and stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-1 to effectively end it.
“My coaches did a great job,’’ Wilson said of assistants Bobby Burnside (Doddridge County), Chad Williams (East Hardy) and Eric Snyder (University). “All the credit goes to them.’’
The North vaulted into a 21-6 lead in the first half, getting two TD passes from Dominic Smith (Fairmont Senior) to Juwan Green (Martinsburg) covering 33 and 20 yards, along with a 35-yard scoring hookup from VanMeter to Cole Day (Parkersburg South).
However, the South caught up 21-all at halftime on Keffer’s first TD toss to Bowen, a 23-yard scoring pass from Kaleb Mackey (GW) to Dionne Jackson (Huntington) and a 4-yard run by Perkins.
The scoring kept right coming in the second half, with Jones-Wright getting all three North TDs, Bowen catching another scoring pass from Keffer for the South and Perkins on his 3-yard run.
Previously, the highest-scoring games in North-South history were a 41-31 North win in 2001 and a 46-26 South victory in 2014. Last year, the South won 7-0 after a huge thunderstorm rumbled through an hour before kickoff and drenched UC Stadium.
Here’s how unstoppable the offenses were, for the most part: The South had four quarterback sacks on one North possession in the first quarter, but it didn’t prevent the North from moving 55 yards in 10 plays for a TD to take a 14-0 lead.
The game had several other offensive leaders, including:
North: Smith was 10 of 18 passes for 211 yards and two TDs; Green ended with six catches for 89 yards and two scores; Jarret Hockenberry (Clay-Battelle) caught four balls for 90 yards; and VanMeter was 4 of 9 passing for 71 yards and carried 10 times for 31 yards.
South: Perkins finished with 21 carries for 96 yards and two TDs, threw a 33-yard pass and caught two balls for 27 yards; Keffer hit on 10 of 16 passes for 191 yards and Mackey completed 4 of 6 throws for 122 yards.
Bowen, who is headed to West Virginia University as a preferred walk-on, was satisfied with his effort.
“It was a little tougher in this game to get deep on my routes and stuff,’’ he said, “but I found a way to do it, and I did it.
“I feel a little bit more confident in myself and what I can do.’’
The South’s All-Star coach was Harvey Arms of Man High School.
* Also playing for the South All-Stars was Chapmanville Regional High School’s Tanner Dillon. Dillon was 2-for-2 on extra point kicks on special teams and on defense had four solo tackles, four assists and two pass breakups.
North 42, South 35
At University of Charleston Stadium
North 42, South 35
North 14 7 14 7—42
South 0 21 7 7—35
N — Green 33 pass from Smith (run failed), 10:45
N — Green 20 pass from Smith (Jones-Wright run), 2:11
S — Bowen 51 pass from Keffer (kick failed), 8:30
N — Day 35 pass from VanMeter (Harvath kick), 7:14
S — Jackson 23 pass from Mackey (Perkins run), 5:33
S — Perkins 4 run (Dillon kick), :50
N — Jones-Wright 15 run (Harvath kick), 9:46
S — Bowen 7 pass from Keffer (Whittington kick), 8:47
N — Jones-Wright 4 run (Harvath kick), 1:00
S — Perkins 3 run (Whittington kick), 10:28
N — Jones-Wright 4 run (Harvath kick), 6:10
A — 3.000 (est.)
First downs 22 20
Rushes-yards 34-131 41-136
Passing yards 282 346
Total yards 413 482
Passes 14-27-1 15-23-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 10-97 11-83
Punts-average 3-39.0 2-35.0
RUSHING — North: Jones-Wright 15-105, VanMeter 10-31, Smith 2-11, Team 2-minus-2, Davis 2-minus-4, Anderson 2-minus-5, Hockenberry 1-minus-5; South: Perkins 21-96, Humphrey 3-17, Lawson 5-9, Presley 2-8, Mackey 5-5, Withrow 1-4, Keffer 3-minus-3
PASSING — North: Smith 10-18-1-211, VanMeter 4-9-0-71; South: Keffer 10-16-0-191, Mackey 4-6-1-122, Perkins 1-1-0-33
RECEIVING — North: Green 6-89, Hockenberry 4-90, Davis 2-64, Day 1-35, Jones-Wright 1-4; South: Bowen 7-172, Jackson 3-66, Humphrey 2-79, Perkins 2-27, Lucas 1-2
QB SACKS — North: Keller 1-12; South: Newhouse 1-9, Bruce-Withrow 1-3, Harless 1-1, Toney 1-1, Humphrey 1-1
FUMBLE RETURNS — North: Vanorsdale 1-0; South: none
INTERCEPTION RETURNS — North: Lofton 1-0; South: Stapleton 1-0
KICKOFF RETURNS — North: Davis 2-60, Anderson 1-23, Green 1-22, Schleicher 1-0; South: Perkins 1-30, Jackson 1-20, Presley 1-15, Ryan 1-10, Humphrey 1-0
PUNT RETURNS — North: Turner 1-minus-3; South: Perkins 2-19