By Pete Zamplas
South Carolina outscored North Carolina 28-17 in the 83rd Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Saturday to snap a four-year losing streak in the series, though A.C. Reynolds star receiver Jhari Patterson dashed in for a two-point conversion as among Tar Heel highlights.
A shocking quick whistle by officials stopped a S.C. play during a sack, before a bouncing fumble would have backed up S.C. to its three-yard line. N.C. stars had already blocked two punts, and a third block was very possible to expand their lead. Instead, S.C. kept the ball, got going, and notched the go-ahead touchdown.
Realizing priorities, the biggest winners are children helped by Greenville’s Shriners’ Hospital and the game proceeds dedicated to that cause. “People here raised money for a more-than-worthy cause,” Reynolds head coach Shane Laws said. Laws called plays for the N.C. squad, in a contest of D1 stars.
Patterson said he feels “blessed” to compete with the best of N.C., against the best of S.C. He said he has narrowed his college choices to UNC Tar Heels and USC Gamecocks.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver-back lined up as a “wildcat” quarterback for a two-point conversion as the sole player in the backfield. Usually as such, he runs the ball but did pass once in playoffs.
This time by Coach Laws’ directive, “it was supposed to be a passing play,” Patterson confided. But that did not materialize soon enough, after he took the direct snap and looked to make a quick throw.
So, he improvised. “I just took off.” Patterson stepped toward the line, quickly cut left and blazed to the sideline. He veered rightward and dove extending the ball into the front corner of the end zone.
Patterson was the target of an overthrown long “bomb,” played often at receiver and some as a defensive back in the first half. The local star’s recent lingering turf toe injury was “aggravated” on the two-point run in the second quarter, so that ended his day, Coach Laws noted.
Game MVPs were running back Elijah Burris (Mtn. Island Charter, Mount Holly) on offense and OLB Stefon Thompson of Vance on defense for N.C., and S.C.’s Jalin Hyatt on offense and ILB and Louisville recruit Duane Martin on defense.
Burris had the most (21) rushes in the game. He gained 74 yards (3.5 ypc.) rushing, and 17 yards receiving for a N.C.-most 90 all-purpose yards. The 210-pound UNC-bound Burris was excited to “compete with (Shrine Bowl) people as good as me, and against people as good as me.”
Rahjai Harris, a 204-pound back from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, led all rushers with 99 yards (7 ypc.). East Carolina-bound Harris burst free for a 20-yard insurance TD with 2:32 left, for S.C.
S.C.’s next-best rusher was QB Mason Garcia, with 74 yards (6 ypc.) on 12 carries with one for the last lead-changing TD. He had 60 net yards, counting sacks. A worthy game MVP, Garcia had a game-best 213 all-purpose yards. He led all passers with 153 aerial yards, including 72 on a scoring play to Hyatt in the third quarter. Garcia verbally committed to East Carolina.
Hyatt played as the Regency of receivers Saturday. The Dutch Fork, S.C. star will be a Tennessee Vol. Hyatt led receivers with 197 yards on six catches — scoring twice. He showed his swift 4.31 breakaway speed.
The 6-foot-3 Hyatt opened scoring by catching Mikele Colasurdo‘s high arcing pass, for a 23-yard touchdown,
Exciting Blocked Punts
North Carolina blocked two punts to score its first eight points within a five-minute span of the second quarter. Thompson made the first punt block. Clemson-bound receiver Tyler Venables snatched the ball at the 15 for S.C. He ran upfield for eight yards, but N.C. took over at the S.C. 23. A pick thwarted N.C.
But two plays later, the Tar Heels scored a two-point safety as S.C. Colasurdo was flagged for intentional grounding from the end zone. That made it 7-2.
Soon, linebacker Shane Whitter (W.M. Williams) blocked another S.C. punt. DB Ja’Qurious Conley (Northside Jacksonville) snatched the ball on one bounce on the 14 for N.C., then zoomed untouched into the end zone.
In celebrating his score, Conley hopped on one foot as if on a Harley motorcycle, revving it up by pinching his hands. N.C. led by a point, at 8-7, with a minute before halftime.
ACR’s Patterson then scored the two-point conversion on a three-yard run, to make the margin equal to a field goal.
N.C. led 10-7 at the break. Each side scored on a pass play in the third quarter — the Garcia-to-Hyatt bomb, then N.C.’s Javondre’ Paige (of Page) to South Point’s Ray Rose for 28 yards.
Rose’s TD followed two drastic reversals in field position. S.C.’s Martin recovered a fumble at the N.C. 20. But S.C. lost 53 yards on four penalties, and punted merely 14 yards. That set up N.C. on the S.C. 39.
Zany Pivotal Play
A pivotal officiating shocker late in the third quarter resulted in a two-TD turnaround. It kept N.C. from getting the ball deep in S.C. territory and expanding its 17-14 lead. It kept alive a S.C. drive that ended with Garcia’s go-ahead TD keeper.
S.C. had the ball at its own 36. Craziness struck on first down. Here is what happened: QB Garcia was sacked by DL Davin Vann of Cary at the 28.
The ball popped loose, bouncing toward the S.C. end zone. It turned out an official blew the play dead during the sack, before the ball came out. Many Players and sideline media said they did not hear the whistle. A video crew in the booth isolated sounds, and told The Tribune they detected the whistle.
As players carried on the play, DL Adrian Spellman cradled the ball momentarily as he ran toward the end zone. Referees ruled he did not possess the ball long enough. The ball bounced into the end zone, where Spellman and N.C. teammate Thompson contested 334-pound blocker Tyshawn Wannamaker and another S.C. player for the ball. No one came up with it.
Officials ruled the ball bounced out of the end zone — avoiding a safety and having to kick it back to N.C. — and went out of bounds at the S.C. three. After huddling, officials finally declared one of them blew the play dead early on, wiping it out after the sack.
Thus, S.C. got the ball again at its 28, instead of its three with threat of the punter backed up in his end zone and getting a punt blocked again or shanking another one.
Two plays later, Garcia hit Hyatt for 43 yards to the N.C. 34. Garcia soon plunged a yard on a keeper, a minute and half into the final quarter. S.C. led 21-17. Eleven scoreless minutes later, Harris’ 20-yard run and the PAT made it 28-17. That was the final score.
S.C. leads the series 45-33.
North Carolina QBs included Jefferson Boaz of East Surry, and Shelby’s Isaiah Bess. Boaz, 6-7 and 235, is heading to Chapel Hill. Bess led Shelby to the 2AA crown — its sixth state title in the past seven seasons. Luke Doty, S.C.’s “Mr. Football,” will be a USC Gamecock. He did not play, due to injury.
N.C. kicker Joshua Karty of Western Alamance is rated the nation’s number one punter, in high school this season. He is heading to Stanford. He was wide on his only field goal try, a 42-yard kick.