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Mississippi All-Stars can’t end losing streak

By Curtis Rockwell

Picayune Item

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The visiting team was close to breaking a five game losing streak in Saturday’s Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Football Classic Saturday afternoon.

But it wasn’t to be.

Mississippi dropped its sixth straight game in this annual series, coming up just short in a 21-17 decision to Alabama here at the historic Cramton Bowl.

Alabama now leads the all-time series 20-7.

Rashaan Evans, an uncommitted five-star linebacker/defensive end from Auburn High School, returned an interception for a touchdown, had eight tackles, four stops for losses, and a sack in the win.

His pickoff was a big play in the game.

Evans intercepted Mississippi quarterback Wyatt Roberts with 11:11 left in the third quarter. Evans rushed Roberts, elevated to tip an attempted screen pass and gathered in the ball. He then scooted in from five yards out to tie the game at 14-14.

“Give their guy there credit for making an unreal play there,” Mississippi head coach Lance Pogue said. “That’s really what this game has always been about. I coached as an assistant in this game two years ago and Florida State’s quarterback (Jameis Winston) and Alabama’s tailback (T.J. Yeldon) was here. This game is full of those kinds of players and we’ll hear from that guy again in college football he’s so talented.”

Mississippi had two great late shots on its final two possessions with Alabama holding that final 21-17 lead. On the first chance, Mississippi had a 1st-and-goal opportunity at the Alabama 4, but Opelika’s Stephen Roberts, an Auburn commitment, broke up a pass intended for Southern Miss commit Korey Robertson, also of Greenwood, on a 4th-and-2 pass from the Alabama 2 with 3:21 to go in the game.

Mississippi’s last opportunity came after taking over at the Alabama 32 with 1:47 left to play. But the Magnolia State couldn’t manage a first down.

“Just to have these bragging rights and beat Mississippi again is great,” Evans, who lists UCLA as the leader for his services, said. “I definitely had a lot of fun with all these guys this week.”

Picayune’s Preston Dedeaux finished with six carries for 32 yards in the game, and Pearl River Central offensive lineman Harry Godwin saw action up front for Mississippi as well. Picayune offensive lineman D’Marcus Haralson was on the sidelines for Mississippi, but didn’t dress out after getting injured in practice late in the week.

“I’m just sick for my players,” Pogue, the head coach at South Panola, said. “We just fought so hard. If we could’ve draw up a script where we had the ball with a 1:30 left at their 30 down four we would take that all day long. We had a play open down the sideline on a wheel route, but we didn’t make it.”

Mississippi’s most valuable player, tight end Sammie Epps of Greenwood, had seven catches for 125 yards Saturday with a 21-yard touchdown late in the first half, but his most impressive play was early in the fourth quarter as he made a one-handed grab on a short pass and ran 50 yards to the 8-yard line. It set up a 29-yard field goal by Oxford’s Cody Mills that ended the scoring.

Epps threatened an Alabama-Mississippi series record of 134 receiving yards set in 1989. His 21-yard touchdown catch gave Mississippi a 14-7 lead with 2:35 left in the first half.

Mississippi quarterback Wyatt Roberts of Louisville, a Jacksonville State commitment, finished 10-of-20 passing for 190 yards and a touchdown.