SPARTANBURG, S.C. — North Carolina came back twice, but South Carolina answered both times and held on for a 28-23 victory in the 77th edition of the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Saturday afternoon at Gibbs Stadium.
The Tar Heels trailed 14-0 at the half but bolted ahead 17-14 early in the fourth quarter, then went up 23-21 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Elijah Hood with 1:56 to play. But South Carolina, with Oklahoma State recruit Mason Rudolph directing the offense, marched down the field for the winning score.
Rudolph, the offensive MVP for the Sandlappers, lofted a ball into the corner of the end zone that Shaquille Davidson, one of seven University of South Carolina commits on the South roster, dove for and pulled in against solid coverage by the North Carolina secondary for the final score with 16 seconds to play.
Two North Carolina heaves – one that traveled 65 yards in the air by N.C. State commit Jalen McClendon of West Mecklenburg – fell incomplete, ending one of the better played Shrine Bowls in several years.
The South Carolina roster featured 16 players who have committed to teams that are currently ranked in the AP top 25. North Carolina had six such players.
However, the Tar Heels charged back from that 14-0 deficit, scoring on the opening drive of the second half (a 15-yard Hood run), getting a 22-yard field goal by Bunn product and North Carolina recruit Freeman Jones and a 6-yard Hood touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Durham Hillside receiver Trevion Thompson – one of three Triangle-area receivers in the game – had five key catches, four of which went for first downs and finished with 37 yards receiving. Southern Durham’s Maurice Trowell had four catches (26 yards) and Middle Creek’s Curtis Burston caught one ball for 19 yards.
“I had a good time out here,” said Thompson, who has narrowed his list of colleges to N.C. State, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, West Virginia and Ohio State. “When my number was called, I just tried to make plays. It was a great experience to play and practice against talent like this.”
The work of Hood, a University of North Carolina recruit who had 23 of the Tar Heels’ 31 rush attempts by running backs, limited the other touches for his backfield mates. He ran for all three touchdowns North Carolina scored in the game and finished with 92 yards rushing.
Cleveland running back Isaac Martin, who ran for more than 4,000 yards in his career, carried the ball just twice in the game and didn’t take an offensive snap in the second half.
“I’m still looking for some more Division I offers,” said Martin, who has verbally committed to Coastal Carolina. “I hoped to get some more exposure in this game, but it’s hard to get that when you’ve got an all-world running back on the team with you.”
Hood was named North Carolina’s offensive MVP. Safety Emmanuel Moseley of Greensboro Dudley, a Tennessee commit, was the Heels’ defensive MVP. He had seven tackles.
Rudolph was the South Carolina offensive MVP. He was 15-of-22 passing for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Solomon Brown of Daniel Central High was the Sandlappers’ defensive MVP with a team-high 10 tackles.
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