Harris County running back Esaias Chapman scored a touchdown and defensive back A.J. Howard saved another in an otherwise forgettable game for the South squad in the GACA North-South Classic.
The North won for the fourth consecutive season, this time 27-7, led by Cartersville quarterback Brooks Barden, who won offensive MVP honors, and defensive tackle Isaiah Mack (Northwest Whitfield), who recorded two sacks and three tackles for loss in the contest.
Chapman was a rare bright spot for the South. He rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown, a 10-yarder to tie the game 7-7 midway through the second quarter. Taking the handoff, Chapman burst through the middle untouched to pay dirt to notch the South’s only score of the game.
“It was big,” Chapman said of his scoring. “To be able to come in here with these four- and five-star defensive players and make a play for my team was great.”
It was a good showing for a player who is yet to get much attention from major colleges, despite a prolific career at Harris County. Over the past two seasons, Chapman has been named to the All-Bi-City first team twice and rushed for 3,760 yards and 36 touchdowns on 583 carries for the Tigers.
“I don’t know what’s up with these colleges,” Chapman said with a smile. “I just want to play, man.”
Howard, meanwhile, got his name called late, making a good play on a pass to the end zone to break up the play. Howard is committed to play his college ball at Appalachian State.
The South’s Curtiss Benton (Alcovy) won the defensive MVP for the game.
The North performance was in stark contrast to the South, highlighted by a handful of big plays that led to the win.
The first came on its second offensive play from scrimmage when wide receiver Michael Gallup (Monroe Area) came around to take the handoff. Gallup ran around right end, stopped behind the line and nearly slipped to the ground. Regaining his footing, he tossed a deep pass down the right sideline to a wide-open Greg Phillips (Arabia Mountain). Phillips hauled the pass in and ran the final 20 yards for the game’s first score.
Phillips caught his second touchdown of the game late in the second quarter, this time a 13-yarder from Tanner Brumby (Pickens).
The North’s final touchdown of the game was likely its finest, a precision pass from Barden to Cartersville teammate T.L. Ford for a 20-yard score. Barden fit the pass into a tight hole between two defenders and Ford dove to the turf to make the catch.
Thomas O’Leary (St. Pius X) added two field goals, a 32-yarder in the third and a 24-yarder in the fourth to round out the scoring.
This is the 11th consecutive year the game has been played in Columbus and 13th overall.
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Monday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium
North 7 7 10 3—27
South 0 7 0 0—7
N—Greg Phillips 56 pass from Michael Gallup (Thomas O’Leary kick); 10:25
S—Esaias Chapman 10 run (Matt Monday kick); 6:49
N—Phillips 13 pass from Tanner Brumby (O’Leary kick); 4:27
N—T.L. Ford 20 pass from Brooks Barden (O’Leary kick); 8:33
N—O’Leary 32 field goal; 1:02
N—O’Leary 24 field goal: 2:58