COLUMBUS - How it started could have been better, but how it ended made up for it.
Calvert place-kicker Stephen Smith booted one extra-point and put two fourth-quarter kickoffs inside the 5 Friday as the North battled to a 21-16 win in the 67th Ohio North-South Classic at Ohio Stadium.
"It definitely was neat to see all those great players and having them blocking for me and holding [the ball] for me. It was really special," said Smith, who added that between 100 and 150 fans and students from Calvert made the trip for the afternoon game.
"The support I had was awesome. The team, the band, the cheerleaders," he said.
Smith was pleased to make a PAT at the Horseshoe.
"It was relief and excitement, it was definitely just a great feeling," Smith said. "Nothing really comes close to putting one through the uprights at Ohio Stadium."
That took a while, though.
The North opened the game by kicking off, but tried a little trickery.
"My first kickoff, we tried a surprise onside kick," Smith said. "It was an interesting onside - aim for the other 35 out of bounds."
But the South covered the kick and scored a couple minutes later when Lima Central Catholic's Tyler O'Connor found Bexley's Jalen Robinette with a 10-yard toss. Valley View's Brad Miller kicked the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 10:32 left in the opening period.
The South countered eight minutes later on a 9-yard pass from Western Reserve's Jeff Clegg to Aurora's Anthony Melchiori, but Smith's extra-point try was blocked.
The South extended its lead to 10-6 midway through the third quarter on Miller's 27-yard field goal, but the North turned things around from there.
Youngstown Boardman's Devin Campbell broke off an 88-yard TD run less than two minutes into the fourth quarter and Smith's PAT had the North up 13-10.
It stayed that way until Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Kevin Besser hit Lakewood St. Edward's Quincy Jones with a 21-yard strike with 2:47 to play.
The North lined up to give Smith another chance at an extra-point, but a South encroachment penalty set up a conversion run by Cleveland Glenville's Willie Henry for a 21-10 advantage.
The South answered with O'Connor finding Huber Heights Wayne's Armani Miller for a 19-yard TD pass with 1:13 to play.
However the attempted conversion pass fell incomplete and the North ran out the clock from there for its first win since 2009.
Campbell ended with three carries for 91 yards for the North and Ravenna's D.J. Jones added 18 rushes for 77 yards.
Maty Mauk, headed to Missouri after setting all-time national passing records at Kenton, played sparingly at quarterback for the South while nursing an injury.
The South still managed 285 yards of passing, though.
"All week, all we heard about was how good the South was, how Maty Mauk was gonna demolish the North," Smith said. "It was exciting. We knew we could take it to them."
O'Connor went 18 of 33 passing for 243 yards to lead the South. Middletown's Zach Edwards had three catches for 64 yards, and Armani Miller (3-53), Columbus DeSales' Warren Ball (5-46) and Kenton's Brice Fackler (3-44) combined for another 11 receptions and 143 yards.