LEXINGTON – Best known as a dunker, Plymouth’s Tyrell Edmiston became the drencher, emptying the contents of his water bottle on the head of Ashland’s Tyler Wilson.
It would have to do. There was no Gatorade bucket in sight.
With apologies to NBA stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the real “Splash Brothers” on Saturday night were Edmiston and Wilson as they sparked the North’s 30-8 victory over the South in the North Central Ohio Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic at Lexington High School.
Edmiston snapped a scoreless tie in the third quarter, using his freakish athletic ability to leap for a jump ball off the right arm of Plymouth teammate Hunter Bailey and streak 75 yards for a touchdown. It was especially disheartening because it came two plays after South running back Ricky Minor, of Mansfield Senior, had fumbled at the North 5.
Wilson took over from there, scoring on a 99-yard interception return and a 51-yard pick-6, part of a six-play sequence that saw the North score three times off turnovers, bridging the third and fourth periods, to bust the game open.
“He’s an amazing defensive back,” Edmiston, an All-Ohio receiver and The News Journal’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year, said of Wilson. “We were going at it all week in practice. He got me and I got him. I’m just glad we were able to play in the game together.”
Wilson accepted his hero status modestly.
“I was just doing what my coaches told me,” he said. “I was in the right position at the right time, and when I caught the ball, I trusted my blockers.”
Wilson was South Central quarterback Jacob Carney’s worst nightmare. All three of Carney’s interceptions came in a span of four passes. In between the Wilson picks, Bucyrus DB Cole Hollis also victimized Carney to set up a 44-yard TD run by Madison’s Juwan Howard in which he reversed his field and easily broke away from the pursuit.
“I was reading the quarterback’s eyes, and he was looking right at me,” Wilson said of his coast-to-coast dagger. “His eyes got big. I just had to stay put. When I got to the 40 or 50 (on the return), I looked down and didn’t see a shadow, so I knew I was in the clear.
“We knew we had to come out for the second half fired up and show them whose game it was.”
Howard rushed for more than 200 yards in a victory over Lexington the last time he stepped on this field, but he was held to 1 yard on five carries before his breakaway. He finished with 52 yards on nine carries and capped his prep career with a TD in each of his all-star outings — the other coming in a winning effort in the state North-South Classic.
“I was just waiting my turn,” Howard said. “All-star games are nothing serious, but I knew,, when I came back out at halftime, I had to do something. I was down on myself, and then that play happened and I was like, ‘All right, cool.’ “
It wasn’t so cool for the South, which had advantages in total yardage (338-275) and first downs (14-6) but negated all of its good work with six turnovers — all in the second half.
It might have been a omen of things to come after halftime when the South held the ball for essentially the last six minutes of the second quarter but had nothing to show for a 16-play, 68-yard drive when Wynford’s Cyle Skidmore drilled Minor at the goal line for a four-yard loss on third down.
The ensuing 22-yard field goal attempt by Matthew McDaniel of East Knox was wide right.
The South fumbled the second half kick but held on downs and then put together another sustained drive of 10 plays only to turn it over on the Minor fumble in the red zone.
Although the South completely dominated time of possession to that point, momentum shifted on one play when Edmiston put his basketball hops into action and broke the scoreless tie.
“We had a few trips in the red zone where we couldn’t cash in, and then we left the defense on the field too long and it gassed them,” South coach Scott Spitler of Lucas said. “When you’ve got that kind of talent, you can’t afford to make mistakes. Missed tackles turn into big plays and they were able to get their big plays into the end zone.
“But I’ll tell you what: I’m a better man getting to coach these kids. It was a great week. They did everything we asked of them.”
The South avoided a shutout when Mansfield Senior’s Asante Wilder found Mount Gilead’s Joe Elson behind the secondary for an 86-yard touchdown.
Usually a slot receiver for the Tygers, Wilder became the second option at QB when another player backed out. Wilder ended up moving the chains and displaying the strongest arm of any quarterback in the game, but the South was in a big hole by the time he got his shot..
“Football’s a game of momentum and both sides had serious playmakers,” North coach Mark Genders of Plymouth said. “If given any kind of edge, you had to jump on it.
“The biggest thing said at halftime is that someone had to make a play. We couldn’t let (the South) dictate things. The pick-6s were set up by great play from the defensive line and great instincts by Tyler. He was outstanding all week.”