Wildcats’ Burt scores touchdown in North-South Classic

Fort Payne senior Sawyer Burt catches a touchdown pass during the second half of the AHSAA North-South All-Star Game in Mobile on Friday.

In his final high school football game, Fort Payne senior tight end Sawyer Burt caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Good Hope quarterback Benny Malin, and the North All-Stars rallied to beat the South 14-10 in the 63rd AHSAA North-South All-Star Classic in Mobile on Friday night.

After playing to a scoreless first half at the University of South Alabama’s Hancock Whitney Stadium, Burt’s scoring reception at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter put the North ahead 7-0 following a Braxton Sumpter extra-point kick. The three-play drive was set up by a North interception by Aliceville defensive back Landon Ball, who returned the pick 36 yards deep in South territory.

Burt’s touchdown reception was his only catch of the game.

The North, coached by Richie Busby of Helena High School, turned to its tenacious defense and made the big plays when needed to seal the win. The South now holds a 31-30-2 edge in the series.

The South, coached by Jim Bob Striplin of Geneva County, roared back with Fairhope place-kicker Luke Freer booting a 25-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the third quarter. And 44 seconds later, the South took the lead 10-7. An interception by Jacob Foster of Greenville was returned to the North 9-yard line early in the fourth quarter and on the next play, quarterback Walter Taylor of Jackson connected with Iverson Hooks of Pike Road for a TD pass to put the South ahead.

The North marched 60 yards on 10 plays to take the lead again 14-10 with Huffman running back Makhi Hughes rolling into the end zone from the 4-yard line with 5:47 remaining. Hughes also had back-to-back runs of 12 and 10 yards in the winning drive

The North defense, led by linebacker Luke Hodge of Oneonta, stymied the South offense on its next possession and the North offense ran out the clock – thanks in part to a fumble recovery by Gordo’s Ben Capps on a punt with 37 seconds remaining.

Hodge earned North MVP honors in the game finishing with 13 tackles.

The first half was played in a steady rain and the defenses for both sides dominated the action as the two teams battled to a scoreless standoff at halftime.

Both teams had their chances in the final 2 minutes of the second quarter. An interception and 35-yard return by Capps thwarted one South scoring opportunity and lit a fire under the North offense when it got the ball back late in the quarter following a punt that gave the North the ball at its own 20-yard line with 5:23 left in the period.

The North used 11 plays to drive 76 yards when South defensive back Laquan Robinson intercepted a pass and returned the ball 77 yards down the left sideline all the way inside the North 10-yard line. The South, facing less than a minute to play in the half, turned the ball back when linebacker Samuel Horton punched the ball out of South runner Hook’s hands at the 3-yard line and recovered for the North with 13 seconds left in the half.

Robinson earned South MVP honors with four tackles, one pass break-up and his 77-yard interception return.

The North finished with 204 total yards on offense with 127 rushing and 77 passing. The South had 161 total yards with 119 rushing and 42 passing.

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