(PHOTO: Greenwood product Sammie Epps)
I traveled down to Montgomery, AL, yesterday hoping to see the Mississippi team snap a five-game losing to Alabama but watched our team suffer a second consecutive five-point loss in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. This time, the Mississippi bunch outplayed Alabama just about everywhere except where it counted, on the scoreboard where they lost 21-17.
This loss is one of the harder to swallow considering the MS All-Stars controlled the game, and dominated much of it from my vantage point. They held a 333-182 edge in total offense and controlled the clock with a 29:29 – 18:31 advantage.
Leading 14-7 at the half, AL All-Star Rashaan Evans made the most important play of the game; tipping a pass at the line of scrimmage that fell in his hands as he raced five yards into the end zone. Selected the game’s Most Valuable Player for AL, Evans was by far Alabama’s best player on this day, and changed the momentum with that play.
MS had opportunities late to take the lead, but a late drive that reached the two-yard line produced no points. A final potential winning drive started in Alabama territory at the 30-yard line with just over 1:30 remaining, but the AL defense held and sealed the win.
The best performance from any player on either team came from MS wide receiver Sammie Epps. The Ole Miss commit from Greenwood had a highlight reel catch in the second half and hauled in seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Purvis standout Markell Pack caught three passes for 95 yards.
Louisville’s Wyatt Roberts was 10-of-20 passing for 190 yards and a TD for MS. Thad Miller of Gulfport was 4-of-13 for 76 yards. Tevin Moore of Stringer was Mississippi’s leading rusher with 33 yards on 13 carries. Picayune’s Preston Dedeaux added 19 yards on 11 carries.
Shareef White of Grenada had eight tackles as the leading tackler for MS. Alvin Moore (Bassfield), Jeremy Sangster (Louisville) and Genard Avery (Grenada) each finished with six tackles. Callaway’s Breeland Speaks and South Panola product Matthew Davis each had a pair of tackles for loss.
Alabama finished with 10 first downs, 87 yards rushing and 95 passing for 182 total yards. Mississippi had 15 first downs, 67 yards rushing and 266 passing yards for 333 total yards.
Ito Smith of McGill-Toolen was the game’s leading rusher with 53 yards on 14 carries for Alabama. Moore added 26 yards on seven carries and was 7-of-13 passing for 95 yards and two scores. Sherman punted seven times for a 34.1-yard average, and Marlon Humphrey of Hoover had one kickoff return for 28 yards.
Alabama, coached by Central-Phenix City’s Woodrow Lowe, jumped to a quick lead in the first quarter marching 72 yards on five plays with Demopolis receiver Demetrius Kemp grabbing a 24-yard touchdown pass from Clay-Chalkville quarterback Hayden Moore. The drive took just one minute off the clock. James Sherman of Montgomery Catholic booted the first of three extra points and Alabama led 7-0.
Mississippi wasted little time tying the game. Starting on the Alabama 41 yard line following a punt, Coach Lance Pogue’s team needed only two plays to score. A’eris Williams of West Point scored the touchdown on a 3-yard run and Cody Mills, from Oxford, booted the extra point with 6:50 left in the quarter.
Mississippi took a 14-7 lead into halftime thanks to a 21-yard pass from Roberts to Epps. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Epps finished the game with MVP honors for Mississippi.
Alabama scored twice in the second half – the first coming on the tipped pass by Rashaan Evans of Auburn High School. He waltzed into the end zone for a TD just 49 seconds into the third quarter.
Evans, the son of former Auburn University running back Alan Evans, had several big plays on defense with four tackles for 13 yards in losses and a sack among his eight stops.
Kemp snagged a 33-yard pass from Moore late in the third quarter for his second TD of the game and gave Alabama the lead for good, 21-14. Kemp finished with three receptions for 72 yards. Mississippi cut the lead to 21-17 with Mills’ 29-yard field goal with 8:57 to play.