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South upends North in the 28th Annual Pinellas County All-Star Game

The win for the South County is the first in nearly five years over North County

CLEARWATER, Fla.- The 28th annual Pinellas County All-Star Game started off looking one sided, but ended up being a close affair at the conclusion.

After a fast start, simmering down and getting hot again, the South got by the North 36-28 at Countryside High School on Wednesday night. Northside Christian wide receiver Joe Key was named the game's most valuable player after compiling 57 yards receiving and taking a kick return back for a touchdown. 

"We haven't won this in like five years," Key said. "We held our ground and tried to not make a lot of mistakes. We kept our heads to the sky and just played football."

Northside Christian wide receiver Joe Key was named the Pinellas County All-Star Game MVP

Northside Christian wide receiver Joe Key was named the Pinellas County All-Star Game MVP

Isaiah Johnson, Lakewood was presented the Mike June Courage Award and organizers had a moment of silence for Logan Jay McNeil Award before the game began. Among others that were given awards after the game along with Key was Clearwater offensive lineman Tyrek Tripp (Offensive lineman MVP), Gibbs defensive lineman Marcus Calvin (Defensive lineman MVP), Pinellas Park defensive back Kamrin Canterbury (Defensive MVP) and East Lake running back Luke Yoder (Offensive MVP).

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Once the game got going, it looked like the South County side would start to pull away in the opening half of play. Northeast quarterback Evan Jacobsen (8-of-11, 140 yards) started off the scoring in the game when he connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Shorecrest wide receiver James Floto with 3:36 in the opening period.

The second touchdown for the South came on the defensive side of things when Pinellas Park defensive back Kamrin Canterbury intercepting a Owen Hinote (Osceola) pass and returning it 16 yards to pay dirt. With the South up 14-0 in the second quarter, it looked like they’d start adding to their lead.

Pinellas Park's Kamrin Canterbury returned an interception for a touchdown

Pinellas Park's Kamrin Canterbury returned an interception for a touchdown

North head coach Cody Montgomery’s (Osceola) team began their comeback attempt in the second period as they got to within a touchdown after a 2-yard plunge by running back Luke Yoder (18 attempts, 73 yards). The second score for the North is when the trickery started as Hinote hit Clearwater’s Adam Alicea, who pitched it to Countryside’s Terrance Jackson on a hook-and-ladder play, totaling 47 yards and tying the game at 14-all.

The second half contained most of the scoring plays from both teams as the intensity level went up a couple notches. After a Jackson Bickel (Northeast) field goal pushed the South ahead 17-14, the North answered right back on a Hinote 37-yard touchdown pass to Seminole's Omar David to make it 21-17. 

On the ensuing kickoff, that's when Key would take the return all the back for six and give the South a 23-21 advantage with 3:06 left in the third quarter. The North trailed heading into the fourth quarter, but took a 28-23 lead after a 2-yard touchdown run by Yoder. 

East Lake running back Luke Yoder rushed for 73 yards on 18 attempts for the North

East Lake running back Luke Yoder rushed for 73 yards on 18 attempts for the North

The go-ahead score would occur with 8:15 left in the game when Gibbs' Sammy Miller scored on a 20-yard touchdown run to put the South up 29-28. South would add one more score on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jacobson to Key with 2:17 left. 

"Heck of a game," St. Petersburg head coach Denis Gillen said. Gillen was the South's head coach for the game. "We're excited for the kids. Excited for the south. I was surprised we were up 14-0. A lot of offense. Excellent players on both sidelines. Didn't surprise me we were in this kind of game and scoring lots of points."

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.