The offensive struggle that is All-Star Game football continued Saturday with the playing of the 78th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. In a time when high school offenses routinely roll up 400 yards or more a game, North Carolina and South Carolina barely topped that number in combined yardage.
South Carolina, which lost the yardage battle, won the scoring battle with a 21-12 victory at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College.
“It’s kind of hard to learn an offense and execute it in one week,” said Durham Hillside offensive lineman Emanuel McGirt, who pulled a quad muscle late in the first half and didn’t play in the second half. “I don’t think it was a situation where anybody was not doing their job.”
South Carolina jumped out to a 14-0 lead, scoring the game’s first touchdown on a 74-yard return of a blocked field goal attempt by Jordan Williams midway in the second quarter. The Sandlappers led 14-0 at the half after a 36-yard TD run by Matt Colburn.
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North Carolina, which ran three fake punts, two fake field goals and started the second half with an onside kick, cut the lead to 14-12 late in the third quarter after an 8-yard TD run by Charlotte Catholic quarterback Joshua Ladowski and a 7-yard TD pass from Travis Sabdo to Joshua Ramseur with 1 minute, 40 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Princeton running back Johnny Frasier, who committed to Florida State in the fall, powered much of the Tarheel offense on the second TD drive with five carries covering 27 yards. Frasier, who admitted he is “torn” about his college decision and said he will not make a final decision until signing day in February, finished with 31 yards rushing on nine carries.
“I know I just have to come harder and harder next time,” Frasier said of playing in the upcoming Under Armour All-American Bowl early next month. “I want to use what I learned at this game to help set me up to have a great week there.”
The North Carolina offense was Triangle heavy with three linemen – Chapel Hill’s Logan Tisch, who will play at Clemson; Corinth Holders’ Jared Johnson; Hillside’s Marcus Pettiford and McGirt; Frasier and Cleveland receiver Greg Tyler.
The game had a decidedly less Triangle-area centric backfield after Southern Durham quarterback Kendall Hinton, a Wake Forest recruit, suffered an ankle injury during an early week Shrine Bowl practice and couldn’t continue. Wake Forest running back Bryce Love was unable to play because of injury as well. He suffered a shoulder injury during the Cougars’ run to the 4AA state championship game.
Tyler said he felt like himself and the rest of the receivers were getting open with South Carolina using lots of man-to-man coverage; it was just a matter of the Tarheel quarterbacks not having the time.
Ladowski (56 yards rushing, 12 of 19 for 94 yards passing) was the N.C. offensive MVP. Scotland County linebacker Brandon McMillian was the defensive MVP with a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Three of the five touchdowns scored came after turnovers.
South Carolina team honors went to Colburn, a Louisville recruit with 83 yards rushing and a touchdown, and linebacker Hassan Belton, who had a game-high 14 tackles.
The game and its associated events helped raise $1,537,820 to support Shriner’s Hospitals.
The coaching staff for the 79th Shrine Bowl, set for Dec. 19, 2015, was announced. Durham Hillside head coach Antonio King was named to the N.C. staff, which will be led by Eastern Alamance coach John Kirby. Jerry Brown of Columbia Spring Valley will be the South Carolina head coach.