Ponder, Hopgood lead South to victory
By By Joe Gex
Dec 25, 2013, 14:42
Bay High senior punter and placekicker Patrick Ponder and Tigers' head coach Jeff Hopgood helped lead the South All-Stars to a 24-9 victory in the 65th annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic on Saturday, December 21st at Milner Stadium in Gulfport.
Ponder was a perfect 3-for-3 on PATs and nailed a 30-yard field goal. He also averaged 46 yards on three punts.
Ponder commented, "This was an awesome experience. It was great getting to meet and play my last game with so many tremendous football players. The coaches did a great job getting us ready in such a short time.”
“They were the ones with all the energy throughout the week and it spilled over to us.”
“I am also glad that Coach Hopgood was with me. I was a little more comfortable having him here. I played well but there is always room for improvement. But, this was certainly the perfect way to end my high school football career."
The South opened the scoring with Ponder's field goal with 9:38 left in the first half.
He then kicked an insides kick that was recovered by the South.
Alex Woodall of McComb threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to DeJarvis Chambers of Wayne County with 6:10 left in the first half. Ponder nailed the PAT to make the score 10-0.
Reed Bigham of Tupelo made a 48-yard field goal for the North with 7:45 left in the third quarter to put the North on the scoreboard.
Woodall threw a 39-yard scoring toss to Julius Craft of Mendenhall with 4:25 left in the third quarter. Ponder converted on the PAT to make the score 17-3.
The South's Kenton Cooley of Laurel intercepted the North's Joseph Willis of Madison Central and returned the pick 31 yards for a touchdown with 6:50 left in the game. Ponder converted on the PAT to make the score 24-3.
Barron Burns of Eastside rounded out the scoring when he scored from one-yard out for the North with 26 seconds left. The PAT missed leaving the final score 24-9.
Hopgood stated, "This was an unbelievable experience. As a head coach, you get caught up sometimes in the day to day operations of a program. This was nice to be able to come out and coach some tremendous athletes at a position.”
“It was huge to have Patrick Ponder here with me. He is a weapon and flipped the field for us several times today. I was happy for him."
The South Offensive MAP was Woodall who threw two touchdowns on 6-for-10 passing and 90 yards. Thr South Defensive MVP was Cooley.
The North Offensive MVP was Bingham while Calwaun Street of Charleston was the North Defensive MVP.
Kirk McCarty of Oak Grove was the South's Bill Stewart Award winner while James Gilleylen of Tupelo won for the North.
The Bill Stewart Award, an outstanding athlete who was killed in action in Korea, is presented annually to the all-star player "...whose attitude, character and conduct on and off the field best exemplify the life and endeavors of Bill Stewart, athlete, gentleman and sacrificial patriot."