GULFPORT – It came as no surprise to those wearing the South’s red uniforms Saturday afternoon that the squad had just set the Bernard Blackwell Football Classic’s record for margin of victory.
Led by Troy-bound quarterback Gardner Minshew, of Brandon, the South rolled to a 48-14 victory at Gulfport High’s Milner Stadium and eclipsed the 31-point mark set in 1973.
“We have been clicking all week,” said Pascagoula receiver and Louisville commit Jaylen Smith. “We were killing it against our defense and our defense was hitting hard so we expected them to do their thing. (The record) isn’t a surprise to me.”
Minshew, who was named the South’s offensive MVP, threw for 190 yards in the first half and ended up completing 15 of 28 passes for 225 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
“We have some really good receivers. Anytime you have guys like them you just try to get it into their hands because they make stuff happen,” said Minshew, who completed passes to nine different players in the game. “I feel like we did a good job of that – giving guys the ball who need the ball.”
Leading 6-0, Minshew connected with Damion Willis of Southeast Lauderdale on a 58-yard touchdown pass down the North’s sideline.
Three possessions later Minshew hooked up with Bassfield running back T’Roderick Daniels for his second score. Minshew pump faked, baiting the North’s cornerback, before lofting a pass to the wide open Daniels.
In addition to Daniels, other Pine Belt athletes to play in Saturday’s contest included Hattiesburg’s Anthony Eashmond, Oak Grove’s Isaiah Spencer and Tylor Pollard, as well as Collins’ M.J. McLaurin.
Nanih Waiya linebacker Jamario Smith opened the scoring in the second half when he pounced on a loose fumble in the end zone, putting the South ahead 26-7.
After trading possessions without finding the end zone, West Jones quarterback Neil McLaurin connected with Jaylen Smith on a 34-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field. McLaurin evaded the pass rush, rolled right and found Smith open over the middle.
McLaurin capped the game’s scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Award winners for the north included Walker (Lake Cormorant) with the Bill Stewart sportsmanship award, receiver Jaylen Smith (Germantown) with the offensive MVP and defensive lineman Derion Ford (Starkville) with the defensive MVP.
For the South, receiver Jonnas Spivey (Bay Springs) won the Bill Stewart award and defensive lineman Jordan Barrett (Laurel) earned the defensive MVP.