Heritage High running back Ricky Person Jr. scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) as North Carolina blew out South Carolina 55-24 in the annual game between the states’ best high school senior football players.
It’s the most any North Carolina team has ever scored in the bowl’s history, which dates back to 1937. North Carolina has won three straight, though South Carolina leads 44-33-4 overall. North Carolina’s special teams were key: In the first half the team returned a kickoff for touchdown and blocked both an extra point and a punt.
Person, an N.C. State recruit, was one of several area high school stars that had big days in the game, played at Wofford College in South Carolina.
Area high school player summary: East Carolina recruit Holton Ahlers (D.H. Conley High) helped lead the team to a 28-12 halftime lead. He ran for one touchdown and threw for two more. Ahlers’ touchdown passes went to N.C. State recruits Person and Devin Carter (Clayton), a wide receiver.
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Person was the team’s Offensive MVP with 15 carries for 180 yards (He scored a 72-yard touchdown run on the last play of the game) and two touchdowns and added three catches for 23 yards and a score. Carter caught two passes for 30 yards and a score.
Ahlers was his team’s overall MVP: He was 11-of-18 for 156 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (his arm was hit on the throw, causing the ball to go straight up and setting up a short pick-six), and ran 12 times for 32 yards and one touchdown.
North Carolina wide receiver recruit Jordyn Adams (Green Hope), who played his first three years in South Carolina, caught one pass for 10 yards. He was only targeted twice.
Wide receiver Bryce Wheaton (Holly Springs), a West Virginia recruit, caught one pass for 5 yards.
Defensive back Javon Terry (Wake Forest), a North Carolina recruit, Virginia Tech defensive line recruit Joe Kane (Heritage) and uncommitted senior Marcus Davis (Garner) were on the team but did not record a tackle.
East Carolina offensive line recruit Donovan Noel (Millbrook) rotated in at offensive guard.
John Jiles (Wake Forest), Payton Wilson (Orange) and Jahmir Smith (Lee County) were original Shrine Bowl picks but did not play.
Thurman Leach, Garner’s head coach, was an assistant on the victorious N.C. team.
N.C. State recruit summary: All five of the Wolfpack’s Shrine Bowl players were in-state, including Carter, Person and Wilson.
Kicker/punter Christopher Dunn (North Davidson) missed a 45-yard field goal but was perfect on extra points (7-of-7) and averaged 37.5 yards on four punts.
Gabriel Gonzalez (Eastern Alamance) held down the right tackle spot all game.
UNC recruit summary: The Tar Heels had five N.C. players: Adams, Terry, offensive lineman Avery Jones (Havelock), wideout Dyami Brown and running back Javonte Williams (Wallace-Rose Hill).
Brown (West Mecklenburg) showed his playmaking ability on a 92-yard kickoff return for touchdown in the first half. He and Adams both fielded punts and kickoffs. Brown had one carry for 12 yards and two catches for 24 yards.
Williams ran 12 times for 90 yards and caught two passes for 37 yards.
Duke recruit summary: The Blue Devils had one in-state player – wideout Jarrett Garner (Hickory Ridge) – and two from South Carolina: wide receiver Dennis Smith (Gaffney) and running back Mataeo Durant (McCormick).
Durant had one catch for 13 yards and four carries for 13 yards.
East Carolina recruit summary: The Pirates had six players in the Shrine Bowl, and all were in-state: Ahlers, Noel, defensive backs and high school teammates Nolan Johnson and Jaren Rainey (Southwest Guilford), Jireh Wilson (Northside-Jacksonville) and defensive lineman Chandler Medeiros (South Iredell). Wilson was a late scratch from the Shrine Bowl after being appointed to replace Jiles.
Medeiros and Johnson had one tackle each.