Second half sees Alabama stars fall to Mississippi 42-7

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From Reports

HATTISBURG, Miss. – Central High football players Justyn Ross and Jahlil Ryles both saw significant playing time for the Alabama all-star team in the annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, but did little to prevent the Magnolia state’s team from crushing their team 42-7 on Saturday.

Ryles, an offensive tackle, helped the Alabama team drive to its only points of the day. Ross, Alabama’s top college prospect, made one catch for 19 yards in the contest.

Ross, who joined the squad recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the second week of basketball practice, is uncommitted for the 2018 season, but narrowed his choices to Alabama, Auburn and Clemson during the week of practice leading to the all-star game.

The game was tied at 7-7 as the two squads headed to the locker rooms for the halftime break. But, Mississippi made adjustments that led to 35 unanswered points in the second half to win the contest handily at the University of Southern Mississippi’s M.M. Roberts Stadium.

With the loss, Alabama’s record in the series dropped to 22-9 overall and 0-2 in games played at Hattiesburg.

Alabama won last year’s game at Cramton Bowl 25-14 and is 5-0 in games played at Montgomery since the classic was moved from Mobile in 2011. The 42 points is the most scored by Mississippi in the series and the most since beating Alabama 38-9 in 1995. Alabama’s biggest margin of victory (51-14) came in 2007.

Alabama, coached by Steve Smith of Piedmont, started off strong, scoring on its first possession when Wetumpka’s Kavosiey Smoke ran in from the 1 to cap a seven-play, 76-yard march – highlighted by Smoke’s 42-yard run. Evan McPherson of Fort Payne booted the extra point and the visitors led 7-0 with 7:03 left in the first period.

McPherson followed with a successful onside kick recovered by Ramsay’s Starling Thomas, but a 15-yard penalty foiled Alabama’s opportunity.

Mississippi, coached by Lance Mancuso of Jefferson Davis County, tied the game at 3:43 in the quarter following an Alabama fumble at its own 24-yard line, and Kenneth Gainwell of Yazoo County raced 24 yards on the next play for a touchdown. Brandon kicker Scott Goodman’s kick tied the game at 7-7.

Both teams sputtered at times in the second quarter – with Alabama missing on a 51-yard field goal and Mississippi’s 48-yard field-goal try on the last play of the first half coming up a few yards short.

Mississippi took control in the third quarter scoring three touchdowns as Alabama’s offense continued to sputter and a tiring defense that spent too much time on the field.

Quarterback Patrick Shegog of South Panola put Mississippi ahead for good early in the third period with a 3-yard touchdown run. Marcus Murphy of West Point scored from the 2-yard line three minutes later taking advantage of Pearl defensive back Tylan Knight’s interception of Alabama quarterback James Foster’s pass at the 26-yard line as Mississippi took a 21-7 lead. Gainwell scored his second touchdown of the third quarter with 1:32 left in the period with a 12-yard run.

Gainwell, who finished with 56 yards rushing on nine carries to earn co-MVP honors for Mississippi with Knight, added his third touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run. Murphy, who rushed for a game-high 124 yards on 13 carries, added his second score with 3:53 left on a 25-yard run.

Alabama linebacker K.J. Robertson of Thompson High School finished with seven tackles, including 3 for losses, was selected Alabama team MVP.

Smoke led Alabama’s offensive effort with 69 yards on 10 carries. Auburn commit Asa Martin of Austin added 39 on 12 carries and Carlos Davis of Muscle Shoals had 38 on six attempts. Alabama had 131 yards rushing but was only 10-of-27 passing for 87 yards to finish with 218 yards. Mississippi had 187 rushing, 138 passing and 325 total yards.

(Editor’s Note: Mark Clark contributed to this story.)