Cardinals win North-South football classic over Bears with goal line stand in OT

SOUTH CHARLESTON — The 2024 edition of the annual North-South All-Star Football Classic lived up to its name on Saturday in South Charleston as the South Cardinals prevailed over the North Bears by one point 21-20 in overtime under the sun at South Charleston High School’s Oakes Field.

The South defense produced the stop to win the game on the final play of the contest as North attempted to win it all with a two-point conversion. The Cardinals stood strong on the line of scrimmage and earned a hard-fought victory in an instant classic.

“Our defense held up well in the first half as our offense was struggling to get some things going,” South head coach Vince Culicerto of Shady Spring said. “Our staff did a superb job of keeping everybody relaxed and the defense kept us in the game until our offense could come through and make some big plays.”

Three players from Monongalia County suited up for the North squad on Saturday with Morgantown’s Braylon Brown and Jaylon Hill, and University’s Luke Hudson all competing for the Bears and head coach Marcus Law of Spring Mills.

Hill lined up at linebacker and played special teams for the North, while Brown took to protecting Hudson, the quarterback, on the offensive line.

Hill, who will play for Seton Hill University in the fall, helped a stingy North defense hold the South to 78 yards on the ground in the game.

Hudson, who is heading to Waynesburg University, played the majority of the snaps for the Bears and finished the day completing 13 of his 20 pass attempts for 182 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown strike to Farimont Senior’s Dylan Ours that tied the game late in the fourth quarter.

“It was a great experience and being with this group of guys all week was incredible,” Hudson said, despite the result of the game. “We had about 13 or 14 practices together and ate three meals a day and hopefully I made some new lifelong friends from this. It’s also neat to be around the group of talented players like this team brings together who are all unique in their own way and who love the game.”

The defensive slugfest of a first half didn’t see any points scored until less than a minute left until halftime when Ours broke the ice with a five-yard scamper to give the North the lead 7-0.

The second half held true to the first through most of the third quarter until South found the endzone with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Chris Ross of Mingo Central to Clay County’s BJ Williams to tie the game.

Both defenses responded well to begin the fourth quarter but the Cardinals broke through with another huge play as Bluefield’s RJ Hairston took a pass from Matt Frye of Scott 63 yards to the house for a 14-7 lead.

That’s when Hudson came back for the Bears with the 50-yard score to Ours that tied the game at 14 and pushed it into overtime.

Each team would get an offensive possession from the 20-yard line in the overtime period, and the Cardinals set the tone with a four-play score by Wahama’s Sawyer Vanmatre who pounded the ball in the endzone from a yard out.

The Bears came out for their own possession from the 20 and needed only one play to find the endzone as East Fairmont’s Ian Cruikshank found a wide-open Ours.

Rather than kick the extra point and send the game to second overtime, the North came out with the offense on the field and Ours lined up under center.

He took a direct snap up the middle that was smothered by the South defense that secured the victory for the Cardinals.

“Our offense came through with the big plays we hoped for and the defense kept us in it,” Culicerto said. “Coming out of the huddle on the last play I just told them it was pretty simple, if they go and get a stop we would win the game and that’s what they did. I’m really proud of this group and what they accomplished this week.”

North Marion’s Landon Frey was named MVP for the North Bears, while Scott’s Matt Frye was named MVP for the victorious South Cardinals.

BOX SCORE

North 0 7 0 7 (6) – 20

South 0 0 7 7 (7) – 21

Scoring Summary

NORTH – Ours run 5 (Walker Kick)

SOUTH – Williams 35 pass from Ross (Aboulhosn kick)

SOUTH – Hairston 67 pass from Frye (Aboulhosn kick)

NORTH – Ours 50 pass from Hudson (Walker kick)

SOUTH – VanMatre 4 run (Aboulhosn kick)

NORTH – Ours 20 pass from Cruikshank (2pt no good)

Individual Statistics

RUSHING – NORTH: Ours 3-11-TD; Stromile 4-15; Hoffman 8-14; Powell 5-18; Eaton 2-4; Cruikshank 4-14; Moore 2-8; Bender 1-5. SOUTH: Cooper 5-22; Williams 1-(-3); Frye 5-20; Bentz 6-16; VanMatre 4-13-TD; McCarty 1-10.

RECEIVING – NORTH: Frey 6-89; Carder 1-8; Bender 2-0; Ours 4-99-TD; Edgell 1-11; Michael 1-11; Walker 1-15; Minor 1-11. SOUTH – Williams 1-10; B. Williams 4-84-TD; Hairston 1-63-TD.

PASSING – NORTH: Hudson 13-20 182 TD, INT; Stromile 0-1 0; Cruikshank 1-3 20 TD; Ours 1-1 17. SOUTH: Frye 6-12 100 TD; Ross 2-2 55 TD.