Johns shoulders load in Mississippi’s victory over Alabama

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 6, 2005

MOBILE, Ala. — Quarterback Jimmy Johns didn’t mind thethrobbing pain in his right shoulder. On a humid Saturday night inLadd-Peebles Memorial Stadium, Johns directed Mississippi to a21-18 victory over Alabama in the 18th Annual All-Star Classic,ending six years of frustration. Johns ran for two touchdowns andcompleted 5 of 9 passes for 88 yards as a crowd estimated at 10,000watched the Classic.

“My shoulder is fine,” said Johns, smiling with satisfaction.”It feels good to break that losing streak.”

Johns, one of four Brookhaven players in the All-Star Classic,posed with his teammates after the game as they held the elusivechampionship trophy and celebrated at midfield. Center GrantMcDonnieal, wide receiver Bud Chatman, and defensive tackle JessieBowman contributed to the triumph.

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“It feels great to win,” said McDonnieal. “We had a lot of goodtalent on our team.”

Bowman, a Mississippi State signee, said he and his teammatesturned up the pressure in the second half. “We played harder thesecond half. We had to break that losing streak.”

Bowman accounted for 2 tackles for losses, including aquarterback sack of Alabama’s Devin Goodwin. Alabama backs weretackled 11 times for losses, totaling 44 yards.

Chatman said he was disappointed he didn’t catch any passes, buthe found some consolation in the victory. “I didn’t do muchtonight, but as long as we got a win, that’s what counts.”

Johns had suffered a shoulder strain during practice last week.He was forced to leave the game when he was tackled for a loss onthe second play of the fourth quarter.

“I hurt it about four times tonight,” said Johns. After ashoulder rubdown by team trainers, he returned to action afterteammate Cornelius McGee of Clarksdale had intercepted Goodwin inthe end zone.

Mississippi head coach Ricky Woods of South Panola has led histeam to consecutive Class 5A state championships. This victory wasspecial to him, too.

“I’m glad to get that bear off our backs,” said Woods who wassurrounded by fellow coaches and friends after the game. “It was along time coming.”

Woods praised Johns for his performance. “I thought Jimmy did agreat job.”

Nursing a 14-10 lead late in the third quarter, Johns hooked upwith wide receiver Stuart Davidson for 45 yards to the Alabama8-yard line. Two plays later, Johns scored on a sneak over lefttackle. Ryan Hoorman kicked the extra point for a 21-10 lead with59 seconds showing.

“That pass was a scramble play,” said Johns. “I thought Ioverthrew (Davidson) but he went up and got it.”

Besides his passing, Johns rushed the football 14 times for 39yards. Derek Pegues of South Panola rushed 15 times for 106yards.

Alabama came back strong and pulled within 21-18 on a 41-yard TDpass from Bryant to Tyler Grisham. Bryant passed to tight end GabeMcKenzie on the 2-point conversion play with 7:56 left in thegame.

Alabama regained possession with 4:25 left in the game and droveto the Mississippi 39 before running out of chances. Mississippitook over with 59 seconds left and ran out the clock.,

In the first half, turnovers and the explosive running of Peguesprovided the big plays for Mississippi. Pegues spun out of thegrasp of two tacklers and streaked 72 yards to paydirt. It set a anew all-star record for longest touchdown run

Hoorman kicked the extra point and Mississippi led 14-10 with1:28 left in the first half.

A fumble recovery by linebacker Lee Klein set up the firstMississippi TD at the Alabama 5-yard line. On first down, Peguesplunged to the 1. Johns scored over left guard on the next play andMississippi led 7-3.

A fumble by Johns at the Alabama 47 set up Alabama’s first TD.Four plays later, Bryant hooked up with wide receiver DesmondJennings for 42 yards to the Mississippi 1.

On the next play, Harris Johnson plunged over left tackle forthe touchdown. Alex Burkett kicked the extra point for a 10-7 leadwith 10:12 left in the first half.

In the first quarter, Burkett kicked a 40-yard field goal,pushing the home team ahead 3-0.

With 1:05 left in the first half, Anthony Johnson interceptedquarterback Devin Godwin at the Mississippi 28, killing a latescoring threat. Johnson, from Provine, led his team with 6 solotackles and 1 assist.

MVPs: Bryant, from Hoover, Ala., and a future midshipmenat the United States Naval Academy, was named Alabama’s MostValuable Player. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 132 yards and 1TD. He rushed 10 times for 46 yards.

Mississippi’s MVP was linebacker Lee Klein of St.Stanislaus. The Air Force signee made 6 tackles and a fumblerecovery.