The most important connection Eric Hoy and Garrett Cloer made during their time on the East squad of the 67th annual N.C. Coaches Association All-Star Football Game wasn’t the two touchdown passes they connected on that flipped the game in the Eastern half of the state’s favor.
They claim it was the connection they built off of the field during the five days leading up to the game that led the the East’s 27-13 victory at Jamieson Stadium on the campus of Grimsley High. Cloer – a Hillsborough Orange grad – and Hoy – a Clayton grad – roomed together and ate every meal together in the days leading up to the contest.
They were just two cogs in a dozen players from the Triangle area under the direction of four area coaches who helped the East reel off 27 unanswered points in the middle of the game.
Hoy caught two TD passes from Cloer – one just before the half and one on the first drive of the second half that took the East from a 6-0 hole to a 13-6 lead – and was the game’s offensive most valuable player. He finished with 68 yards receiving on four catches.
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“We’d never met before this week,” said Hoy, a Randolph-Macon recruit. “But we spent every minute we were here together. Roommates, ate every meal together, all of the time we could. We built a great connection, just like so many of the guys on this team.”
After Hoy’s 7-yard catch for a TD with 33 seconds left in the first half tied the score, the East put on an All-Star football clinic for almost the entire second half.
The defense clamped down on the West offense and the East offense executed to near perfection once it took the lead (on Hoy’s 32-yard catch from Cloer early in the third quarter). East coach Jimmy Williams of West Johnston and a staff that included Millbrook’s Clarence Inscore, Louisburg’s Chris Lee and South Granville’s Mike Hobgood turned to their running game with the lead and it produced.
Elizabeth City Northeastern quarterback Ge’Dari Liverman capped the second East drive of the second half with a blistering 80-yard TD run on a quarterback read option keeper for a 20-6 lead with 3 minutes, 58 seconds to play in the third.
Liverman’s was the longest scoring run in the 67-year history of the game, breaking a 52-year-old record. Later, he threw a 21-yard TD pass to Matthew Boykin with 3:21 to play in the game to complete a 27-point surge.
“We started turning 3- or 4-yard runs into 7- or 8-yard runs in the second half,” Williams said. “To be successful in an All-Star game like this, you have to be able to run the ball. We were able to do that in the second half and our guys committed to doing it.
“There wasn’t a kid on this team who wasn’t unselfish all week.”
The East lines that controlled the game in the second half featured area players Christian Anumihe of Garner, Markus Crutchfield of Durham Hillside, Matthew Donovan of Heritage, Trayon Smith of Northern Durham and Sam Campbell of West Johnston.
The secondary featured Garner’s Raekwon Britton, Knightdale’s Justin Blango and Hillside’s Jalon Bethea (five tackles). West Johnston linebacker Cameron Williams had six tackles and the East squad’s only sack of the night. Millbrook linebacker Julian Williams had three tackles.
Fayetteville Jack Britt’s Antwone Harper, with a game-high 10 tackles, was the defensive MVP.
Cloer finished the night 7-of-14 passing for 106 yards.
Pittsboro Northwood’s Jared Worley had a 27-yard catch to set up the West’s first TD midway of the second quarter.