LEXINGTON, Ohio — Lightning struck twice Saturday at Lexington High School, but it wasn’t produced by the thunderstorm that delayed the start of the North Central Ohio Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic.
Ashland defensive back Tyler Wilson returned two interceptions for touchdowns and the North stars rumbled to a 30-8 win over the South in the annual showcase.
The game’s defensive Most Valuable Player, Wilson did all of his damage in the span of 87 seconds bridging the third and fourth quarters. He picked off a Jacob Carney pass near the goal line and raced 99 yards untouched for his first score, giving the North a 13-0 lead with 52 seconds left n the third quarter. Then, after Madison’s Juwan Howard scored on a 44 yard run to give the North a 20-0 lead with 11:45 to play in the fourth, Wilson stepped in front of another Carney pass and raced 51 yards for a 27-0 North lead with 11:25 to play in the fourth.
“He’s a great defensive back,” said Plymouth’s Tyrell Edmiston, who spotted the North to a 6-0 lead after hauling in a 75 yard scoring strike from Big Red teammate Hunter Bailey. “He’s been doing it all week in practice.”
Harbinger: The first half was a defensive struggle before the South finally got something going late in the second quarter. With Mansfield Senior running back Ricky Minor leading the charge, the South pieced together a 16-play drive but failed to produce any points when kicker Matthew McDaniel (East Knox) missed a 22 yard field goal attempt.
The game was scoreless at halftime.
“I knew we were going to turn it up in the second half,” Edmiston said. “I predicted we would score at leas 20 points (in the second half).”
Unglued: The South came unhinged in the second half, turning the ball over six times. A Minor fumble deep in North territory set up Edmiston’s touchdown. Wilson’s first pick-six followed, then an interception by Cole Hollis set up Howard’s scoring dash.
“When I was coming back out after halftime, I knew I was going to do something.” Howard said.
Emergency Duty: The South extended its lead to 30-0 midway through the fourth on a 36 yard field goal by Tiffin Calvert’s Michael Smith. Carney, who was injured during the fourth quarter, was replaced by Mansfield Senior receiver Asante’ Wilder.
“I felt comfortable back there because i took some reps there during practice,” Wilder said. “I wasn’t surprised when they called my name. I had to step up to the plate.”
The undersized Wilder showed off his powerful right arm, hooking up with Mount Gilead’s Joe Elson on an 86-yard TD pass.
“We had been working the hitch-and-go all night,” Wilder said. “I saw (Elson) catch one in practice so I threw one out there and I’m lucky he went out and got it.
“We may have lost, but we made it interesting and it was great to measure yourself against all the other great players in the area.”
And the Winner Is ...: Fourteen all-stars received $1,000 scholarships at halftime. Local winners included Colton Harvery of Sheby, John Hassman of Lexington, Plymouth’s Bailey, Madison’s Alex Hill and Lucas’ Dalton Dennison.
Honored: Ashland’s Wilson wasn’t the only player recognized during the postgame ceremony. Wilder was selected the offensive MVP, while Howard was the outstanding offensive back. Ontario’s Bronson Krull was selected the top defensive lineman.
“It’s an honor picking up an award like this,” Wilder said. “We’ll be back to work next week.”