SEBRING - The North had highly touted quarterback Marquis Robins-Cato of Gainesville. The South had the Griffin twins- Shaquill Griffin and Shaquem Griffin who were two of four players on the South squad that have committed to play for the University of Central Florida (UCF) for the 58th Annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) North South All Star Classic.
The North squad nearly overcame 8 turnovers, which include three interceptions by Cato only to fall short to the South by a score of 25-14.
After forcing the North to punt after three plays to start the game, the South drove to the North's 12 yard line before they committed the first turnover of the game.
The North returned the favor just moments later when they picked off a Sandon Mims pass that would eventually lead to a 33 yard field goal by Austin Taylor to give the South a 3-0 lead.
"We moved the ball back and forth from the twenties," said South Head Coach Rod Scafer, "but we did not get it in the end zone enough."
The North would have the ball stripped from them on their next possession, which led to a missed field goal attempt by the South.
As the North squad continue to struggle offensively, the South seem to be hitting strides toward the end of the first quarter, but again they were stopped short of the goal as Taylor kicked his second field goal of the game to put the South up 6-0.
In the second quarter, the South was able to finally reach the end zone as quarterback Pete DiNovo scored on a three yard run. They failed on the two point conversion and the South now led by 12-0.
The North offense finally started to move on its next drive, but stalled on the South's 32. On fourth down and 6 yards to go, the North went for it and failed.
The South took over on downs and on the first play, quarterback Jake Lutzen connected with TJ Douglas on a 68 yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick was good to increase the South' lead to 19-0.
With the final minutes winding down in the first half, the North caught a break when they recovered on fumble on the South's 13 yard line. They converted a fourth down and scored on a 2 yard run by Stafon McCray to put the North on the board before half, trailing the South 19-7.
The South came out the second half with a nearly six minute offensive drive that was capped off by Taylor's third field goal of the game, this one from 42 yards out. He would miss one towards the end of the quarter as the game went into the final quarter with the South leading 22-7.
The South seemed to have the game in hand until receiver Bentlee Critcher for the North raced past the South defender on the right sideline. Quarterback Mims threw a perfect pass that hit him in stride and suddenly it was a game again as the North closed the gap to 22-14 with 11:02 left in the game.
The turnover bug would return to the game as the North fumbled on their next possession that resulted in Taylor's fourth field goal of the game to make the score 25-14.
The final nail was when North quarterback Cato threw his third interception of the game to the South's Most Valuable Player, Richard Benjamin Jr, who hauled in two of them. The South was able to run out the clock and hold on to the 25-14 victory.
Tevin Floyd was named MVP for the North Squad.
When asked about how they were able to handle a highly touted Cato, Shafer stated that they were loaded with defensive linebackers and backs, so we put pressure on him.
"He's a great quarterback," said Shafer, "don't let one game with three days of practice make that big of a difference."
As for the Griffin twins, Schafer had nothing but praise for Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin.
"I will tell you what, they are funny and they are great," said Shafer, " they are real twins, both are going to Central Florida and the one young man plays without a hand (Shaquem) and he is phenomenal. He is an inspiration to everybody."
This was Shafer's first time as a Head Coach in the North South Classic.