From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY – Mississippi’s All-Stars edged Alabama 24-20 Monday night to win for the first time in the 33-game football series at Cramton Bowl.
The Alabama-Mississippi Classic, a game sponsored by the AHSAA and administered by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC), played its first 24 games from 1988 to 2010 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and one game at Troy University. The game moved to Cramton Bowl in 2011 and began a rotation with Hattiesburg (MS) 2015.
Alabama, which holds a 22-10 edge in the series despite two losses in a row, won the first five games at Cramton Bowl and are 0-2 in games played in Mississippi.
Running back Jarod Conner of Hattiesburg rushed 18 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns to lead Mississippi to its first Cramton Bowl win. He moved from his running back position to the quarterback in the second period and helped jump-start a sluggish offense that found its running game with the one-two punch of Conner and Tupelo’s Jaquerrious Williams. Conner scored the first two Mississippi touchdowns on runs of 2 and 6 yards and Williams finished with 94 yards on 20 carries and scored the final TD on a 13-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Conner was selected MVP for Mississippi, coached by Clarksdale’s Henry Johnson.
Alabama’s All-Stars, coached by Hoover’s Josh Niblett, moved the ball well on its first two possessions but came away with only one score. The first drive stalled inside the 25 and a 41-yard field attempt by Hoover’s Will Reichard was wide to the left.
The defense got the ball back near midfield when Jackson defensive back Nehemiah Pritchett intercepted Oak Grove (MS) quarterback John Rhys Plumlee’s pass on the next series and return it 36 yards to the Mississippi 49.
Pinson Valley quarterback Bo Nix dazzled the fans with two pass connections with Hoover receiver George Pickens – the last one covering 13 yards for a touchdown to cap the 49-yard, six-play march. Reichard’s PAT made it 7-0 with 5:27 left in the first quarter.
Mississippi recovered a fumble near midfield with 6:05 left in the half and took advantage late in the second period climaxing an 11-play, 44-yard drive that followed with Conner’s 2-yard TD run with 1:19 left in the half. Tucker Barefoot of Clinton tied the game with his PAT kick.
Conner capped a 75-yard, nine-play drive to start the second half with a 6-yard TD run, and Williams extended the lead to 21-7 early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard TD run.
Central-Phenix City’s Peter Parrish culminated a 12-play, 75-yard march midway through the final period with a 3-yard TD pass to tight end Michael Vice to cut the lead to 21-14.
Mississippi place-kicker Tucker Barefoot, who missed two field goals, nailed 43-yarder with 35 seconds left to extend the lead to 24-14. Alabama, however, wasn’t through. Pickens made a spectacular grab in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown from Nix on the final play – capping a 75-yard drive in the final 35 seconds to close the game at 24-20.
Pickens earned MVP honors with nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. The nine catches tied the Alabama-Mississippi series record for most catches in a game and the 155 yards set a new record.
Mississippi finished with 257 yards rushing and 133 passing for 390 total yards. Alabama had just 57 yards rushing but Parrish and Nix combined to complete 16-of-39 passes for 237 yards. Nix was 9-of-22 for 162 yards and two TDs, and Parrish was 7-of-17 for 75 yards and a score. Tre Ross of Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa caught two passes for 33 yards, Lanett’s Trikweze Bridges had two catches for 10 yards and Jackson-Olin’s A.J. Toney had a 28-yard reception. Amontae Spivey of Central-Phenix City led all Alabama rushers with 29 yards on seven carries.
Oxford linebacker Kendall McCallum led Alabama’s defense with 10 tackles, Pritchett had nine and Fultondale’s Ja’Len Sims and Jackson-Olin’s LaVonta Bentley had eight each. Horn Lake’s Nakobe Dean had eight stops for Mississippi.