When the rosters for the 60th annual Grange Insurance Ohio North-South Classic were announced, it appeared that the North team might have an advantage.
After all, some 22 players on the North side signed letters-of-intent to play college football at Bowl Championship Series schools. Just eight players on the South team did the same.
That is one reason – among several – why the North rolled to a 45-17 win over the South in the game played before 5,250 Saturday night at Columbus Crew Stadium.
“The smartest thing that we did was we didn’t try to do too much,” said Canton McKinley coach Brian Cross, who piloted the North to the largest point total in game history. “We stayed with some basic running plays. We felt like we had an edge in the offensive and defensive line. We let those guys get the push. We had two or three great running backs and we let them do what they do. And our quarterbacks were really good at the quick passing game. There was very little coaching on with the North. It was just a lot of talent.”
The North was led by game MVP Tyrell Sutton, the reigning Mr. Football and Ohio High’s Man of the Year for football from Akron Hoban. Sutton, Ohio’s career rushing leader who is headed to Northwestern, had 203 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
“To be able to be acknowledged as one of the best players and to be able to go out and show it tonight, it feels great,” Sutton said. “That’s always in the back of my mind. I just wanted to come out here and have fun. There was incredible talent on both sides of the ball, but it was great to come out here and play with the guys I have always dreamed about playing with and read in the papers about.”
Cross marveled as his North team rolled up 512 yards total offense, including 284 on the ground led by Sutton’s big showing.
“Not only does he have moves, but you saw how physical a runner he is,” Cross said of Sutton. “He’s low and he has the big, strong legs. He’s hard to bring down.”
Sutton got a lot of his yards behind Lakewood St. Edward offensive tackle Alex Boone, one of eight Ohio State signees in the game.
“Coming out, we were like we were tired,” Boone said. “But then you get going and it’s game speed and everybody is ready to go and we love it.”
Cross admitted it was easy calling plays with a tackle like Boone to run behind.
“He is a big, physical kid and we knew he would come off the ball, along with our tight ends,” Cross said. “We knew we would get a good push over there. Our backs were able to read that and made some good cutbacks. It was an offensive line that did what they did and Tyrell Sutton is a special back.”
Michigan-bound wide receiver Mario Manningham had three catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns for the North.
“We came out here and did what we had to do and had fun and enjoyed it,” Manningham said.
OSU signee Lawrence Wilson of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary enjoyed playing tight end and defensive end for the North.
“During the whole week it was great to play against the best competition in Ohio,” Wilson said. “It was real exciting. I got in on both sides of the ball. I just did what the coach asked me to do. They said to go and block and I did that.”
Wilson was part of a defensive effort that helped hold the South to just 264 yards total offense.
“The whole week, we talked about shutting them out and not letting them get anything,” Wilson said. “While they were playing kickball and dodgeball, we were practicing hard, conditioning and working on getting to the ball. We were real excited to play.”
OSU signees Jamario O’Neal and Freddie Lenix, both from Cleveland Glenville, were also on the North squad.
Four more OSU signees were on the South squad, led by Cincinnati St. Xavier quarterback Rob Schoenhoft. He was 8 of 23 passing for 179 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Also on the South, linebacker Austin Spitler had 10 tackles. Defensive lineman Todd Denlinger and wide receiver Andre Amos, who had two catches for 30 yards, were also on the South team.
The South got in gear on its first possession as Schoenhoft completed passes of 30 yards to Amos and 33 yards to Greg Orton. But North’s O’Neal, headed to OSU, batted away a pair of passed in the end zone. The South had to settle for Andrew Zurcher’s 27-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 6:31 left in the first quarter.
The North’s Ryan Brinson then ripped off a 60-yard kick return, giving his side possession at the South 34. North quarterback Billy Cundiff made light work of this situation, hitting Manningham for a 21-yard touchdown to put the North up 7-3 with 4:10 left in the first quarter.
The North took over after a South punt at the South 46 late in the first quarter. On first down there, Cundiff threw deep down the middle to Manningham for the 46-yard TD. The Michigan signee got behind the South’s David Bruton. That put the North up 14-3 with 1:59 left in the quarter.
The running game then began to click for the North as Sutton ripped off a 17-yard run down to the South 22. On second-and-8 from the 20, Sutton went left and broke a tackle by Spitler and was gone down the right sideline for the 20-yard TD and a 21-3 lead with 8:07 left in the half.
The North then had a 58-yard TD pass from Tim Hiller to Manningham negated by a penalty. Still, runs by Manningham and Marcus Waugh moved the North into the red zone. They had to settle for Joe Kleinsmith’s 27-yard field goal and a 24-3 lead with 1:05 left in the half.
The South answered late in the half. Schoenhoft threw deep down the middle to Jared Humphreys on a 74-yard TD that cut the North lead to 24-10 with 44 seconds left in the half. By rule, the South received the kickoff after that score and drove inside the North 40, but could not get any closer to end the half.
That capped a first half where Schoenhoft was 6 of 14 for 164 yards and the TD to Humphreys.
The South got the lead down to 24-17 when they scored on the initial possession of the second half on Dante Love’s 4-yard pass to Humphreys.
But the North put the game away by scoring the last three touchdowns. Sutton tallied on runs of 2 and 20 yards and Tim Hiller hit Andrew Means for a 22-yard TD to cap the scoring. The North had the ball at the South’s 2-yard line in the final minute, but fell on the ball to end the game.
The North now leads the all-time series 33-24-3.
2005 Grange Insurance Ohio North-South Classic
June 18, 2005
Columbus Crew Stadium
North 14 10 14 7 45
South 3 7 7 0 17
SOUTH – FG Arthur Zurcher, New Philadelphia 27, 6:31
NORTH – Mario Manningham, Warren Harding 21 pass from Billy Cundiff, Green (Joe Kleinsmith, Lakewood St. Edward kick), 4:10
NORTH – Mario Manningham 46 pass from Billy Cundiff (Joe Kleinsmith kick), 1:59
NORTH – Tyrell Sutton, Akron Hoban 20 run (Joe Kleinsmith kick), 8:07
NORTH – FG Joe Kleinsmith 28, 1:05
SOUTH – Jared Humphreys, Jackson 74 pass from Robby Schoenhoft, St. Xavier (Arthur Zurcher kick), :44
SOUTH – Jared Humphreys 4 pass from Dante Love, Cin. Withrow (Arthur Zurcher kick), 7:02
NORTH – Tyrell Sutton 2 run (Joe Kleinsmith kick), 4:45
NORTH – Tyrell Sutton 20 run (Joe Kleinsmith kick), 2:01
NORTH – Andrew Means, Avon Lake 22 pass from Tim Hiller, Orville (Joe Kleinsmith kick), 9:36
Rushing leaders: North: Tyrell Sutton 21-203, Marcus Waugh, Toledo St. John’s 6-65, Kendell Davis 3-16, Mike Gray, Tallmadge 1-1, Billy Cundiff 1-(1)
South: Cedric Tolbert, Xenia, 6-13, Dante Love 5-1
Passing leaders: North: Billy Cundiff 5-6-109-0, Tim Hiller 6-7-85-0, Greg Micheli, Upper Sandusky 1-2-34-0
South: Robby Schoenhoft 8-23-179-1, Dante Love 2-6-69-1, Chris Wright, Middletown 0-1-0-0
Receiving leaders: North: Andrew Means 4-68, Mario Manningham 3-81, Jared Martin, Clyde 2-11, Lawrence Wilson, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 1-24, Jim Ramella, Cleve. St. Ignatius 1-10.
South: E.J. Morton-Green, Cin. Princeton 3-80, Jared Humphreys 2-78, Greg Orton 4-6, Andre Amos, Middleton 1-30.