A turnover laden game was nonetheless full of hard hits and big plays at the Columbus Civic Center on Saturday.
Athletes from Columbus and the surrounding areas suited up for the High School Indoor Classic, sponsored by the Columbus Lions, with Team Blue — made up of players from outside Muscogee County — coming out on top 52-27.
The Red Team, comprised of players from Muscogee County, scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a brief one-point lead in the game, but a trick play, featuring Central High’s Khaled Berklin, and a handful of turnovers turned the game on its head.
On a play Berklin said his team came up with just before the game, Blue quarterback Wynton Heard (LaGrange) took the snap at the Red 12-yard line and passed across the field but behind the line of scrimmage to Berklin. Berklin caught the ball, looked up field and found Kelsey Finley (LaFayette) in the opposite corner of the end zone for the score.
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The 12-yard pass, Berklin’s only throw of the game, put the Blue ahead 19-14, a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“We knew we were going to run that play,” Berklin said after the game. “When I let it go, I thought he overthrew him, but he came up with it, so it worked out.”
The Red Muscogee players then turned the ball over on their final two possessions of the half. One was recovered in the end zone and the other led to a short 8-yard touchdown pass from Heard to high school teammate Hayden Olive (LaGrange).
By halftime, the Blue lead was 32-14. Despite an interception on its first play of the second half, the Blue team recorded a safety and two more touchdowns before Red reached the end zone again.
Central’s Jeron Jones caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Heard to make it 40-14 and Beulah’s Trevon Brown hauled in an 18-yarder to make it 46-14.
“It was fun getting to know all these guys I didn’t know,” Berklin said. “You practice with them and you’re able to develop some chemistry before the game.”
One bright spot for the Red team was Columbus’ James Traylor, who hauled in two touchdown passes. He scored on a 25-yard pass from Jordan’s Will Harris to cut it to 46-20 after bringing in a 13-yarder in the first half to give his team a brief lead at 14-13.
“It was great to come out and play with guys I’ve competed against,” Traylor said of the game. “It’s fun to see how we can play together.”
Harris tossed two other touchdown passes, his first a 29-yarder to Carver’s Dequindre Coleman to make it 13-7 and his last an 11-yarder to Jordan teammate Damon Lewis, a one-handed grab, to make it 52-27.
Overall, Harris was 11 of 24 for 124 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
Berklin, in addition to his touchdown pass, also hauled in four passes for 36 yards and a touchdown and was named the offensive player of the game.
Northside’s Victor Ballesteros, playing for the Red team, was named defensive player of the game.
Quarterback Heard, who completed 14 of 28 passes for 136 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions plus a rushing touchdown, was named the game’s most valuable player.
Saturday at the Civic Center
Blue 13 19 2 18—52
Red 0 14 0 13—27
B—Khaled Berklin 26 pass from Wynton Heard (Caleb Boone kick); 9:25
B—Heard 2 run (kick failed); 6:32
R—Dequindre Coleman 29 pass from Will Harris (Christian Lucas kick); 11:59
R—James Traylor 13 pass from Harris (Lucas kick); 7:18
B—Kelsey Finley 12 pass from Berklin (kick failed); 2:11
B—Dazmon Dunlap fumble recovery (kick failed); :46
B—Hayden Olive 8 pass from Heard (Boone kick); :23
B—Jeron Jones 7 pass from Heard (kick failed); 14:28
B—Trevon Brown 18 pass from Heard (kick failed); 7:52
R—Traylor 25 pass from Harris (2-point failed); 5:25
B—Caleb Boone 20 pass from Heard (kick failed); 2:40
R—Damon Lewis 11 pass from Harris (Lucas kick); :32