Montgomery, Ala - (AHSAA) Alabama wide receiver Justin Johnson of Hoover came down with perhaps the most dramatic catch in the 28-year Alabama-Mississippi Football All-Star Game series Saturday on the last play of the game to score the game-winning touchdown in the 36-30 win.
With the game at Cramton Bowl tied at 30 all with 12 seconds remaining and Alabama at the Mississippi 30-yard line, quarterback Tyler Cameron of Foley fired deep into the left corner of the end zone and Johnson, a 6—foot-4 receiver, leaped high to wrestle the ball into his arms from a Mississippi defender for the spectacular TD.
The play climaxed an incredible comeback for the Alabama All-Stars, now 21-7 in the series and a perfect 4-0 in the game played at Cramton Bowl. Coach Jamey DuBose of Central-Phenix City, Alabama’s head coach, saw his team trailing 28-10 late in the first half before the offense finally got on track.
Sparked by the hard running of Madison Academy running back Kerryon Johnson, Alabama took a 30-28 lead with 7:44 left in the third quarter when St. James tight end Jalen Harris caught a 7-yard TD pass from Mountain Brook quarterback Jacob Carroll. Johnson, who earned Alabama team MVP honors with 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns, scored on runs of 11 and 7 yards in the second quarter and capped a 10-play, 80-yard march in the third period with a 5-yard score to pull his team to within four at 28-24.
Mississippi, coached by Starkville’s Jamie Mitchell, came out clicking on all cylinders in the first half as Starkville quarterback Brady Davis completed his first 12 passes to help the visitors post four first-half touchdowns, a Mississippi record in 28-year history of the series. Davis connected with his own high school teammate Raphael Leonard for two touchdowns in the first quarter. Leonard made great grabs for 28 yards and 11 yards to put Mississippi up 14-3. Leonard finished with five catches for 59 yards to earn Mississippi MVP honors. Davis, who was just 1-of-12 over his last dozen passes, finished 13-of-24 for 158 yards and three scores. Terance Davis, an Ole Miss early basketball signee from Southaven, was the game’s leading receiver with seven receptions for 104 yards and a 23-yard TD from Davis late in the first half. Linebacker Johnathan Abram of East Marion also raced 44 yards with an interception for Mississippi’s final touchdown of the first half.
Alabama, which led 3-0 on Decatur kicker Rhett Morrison’s 31-yard field goal in the opening period, gave up a safety with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter when Mississippi linebacker Fred Walls of Olive Branch tackled Blount’s back Demetrice Vaughan in the end zone after the running back tried to scoop up an errant snap that had sailed past him past the goal line. The play erased Alabama’s first lead of the game and tied the game at 30-30.
That is how it stood when Mississippi kicker Michael Godley tried a 46-yard field goal with 1:03 remaining that sailed short and wide left.
Starting its final drive at the Alabama 30, the host team needed six plays to reach the end zone. Johnson had runs of 21 and 9 yards, Dale County’s Jamarrius Henderson streaked for a six-yard gain and DeSherrius Flowers of Vigor gained four yards to set up the final play.
Alabama finished with a series-record 28 first downs, 240 yards rushing and 189 passing for 429 total yards. The 74 total offensive plays also set a new series record. Mississippi set the series record for passes attempted and completed with a 25-of-47 performance that netted 280 yards. The visitors managed only five net yards rushing on 17 attempts.
Johnson’s 130 yards led all rushers. Vaughan had 38 on nine carries, Keith Mixon of Shades Valley added 29 on two carries with one long end round touchdown called back. Henderson had 20 yards on six carries. Cameron was 5-of-9 passing for 147 yards. Carroll was 5-of-12 for 42 yards. Each fired one TD pass. Mixon also caught three passes for 90 yards and Johnson finished with 49 yards on three catches.
Jamarius Smith of Meridian was 12-of-23 passing for 122 yards to go with Davis’ 158-yard, three-TD total for Mississippi.
Defensively, Michael Jackson of Parker had 11 tackles and one assist to pace Alabama. Amon’te Caban of Smiths Station added seven stops and Melvin Tyus of Carver-Montgomery had five. Quandeski Whitlow of Opelika had three tackles for 15 yards in losses and Caban had three stops behind the line for seven yards in losses.
Mississippi’s defensive leaders were Leo Lewis of Brookhaven, Jamal Paters of Bassfield and Ephraim Kitchen of South Panola each had seven tackles to pace Coach Jamie Mitchell’s defense.
After 28 games in Alabama, the series will move to Mississippi next year with the game set to be played at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.