FLORENCE — The scoreboard at Braly Stadium might have read South 26, North 14, but in the view of everyone who participated in the inaugural ProGrass International Scout Bowl, everybody was a winner.
Friday night’s game concluded three days of combine work and practices for 81 college and foreign players trying to break through into professional football. And according to George St. Lawrence, founder and CEO of the Collegiate Development Football League, who partnered with ProGrass and EUROstopwatch to promote the game, it was a great success.
“The intensity level from the kids and the coaches was great this week,” St. Lawrence said. “They really appreciated the opportunity to play again.”
It also meant a lot to South head coach Johnny Majors, who choked back a few tears when the team presented him with the game ball after the victory.
“It really was very exciting and a lot of fun,” the 77-year old former Pittsburgh and Tennessee coach said. “It was so invigorating and rewarding to be around all these great players and coaches this week. I really think I got a lot more out of this week than I put in.”
The South statistically dominated the game, gaining 413 yards to the North’s 216 and held North quarterbacks Bobby Cooper and Peter Lalich to a combined 9-of-32 with two interceptions.
The South took a 13-0 halftime lead on two Jose Maltos field goals and a 1-yard quarterback sneak by James Coy.
The North struck back with two big plays in the third quarter to take the lead. The first was a 61-yard touchdown run by Logwone Mitz and the second a 90-yard punt return by Antavian Edison, which gave the North a 14-13 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
But the tide turned back in the favor of the South a few minutes later, when Trent Debraga recovered a fumbled punt at the 3-yard line. Daniel Borne scored on a 1-yard touchdown run four plays later and the South had the lead back for good.
The South put the game away when Khiry Robinson rushed 42 yards to the 1-yard line and then scored himself two plays later with 3:05 remaining.
Former coach and ESPN broadcaster Mike Gottfried, who coached the South quarterbacks, said he couldn’t have been prouder of not only his players, but the North players as well.
“The players really had a passion for this,” Gottfried said. “This game gave these players a chance to play one more game, and who knows what will come of this? One of these days, the MVP of the Super Bowl might have come from this game.”
Two local players who got a chance to play were former North Alabama running back Wes Holland and long snapper Josh Roberts. Holland had five carries for 28 yards and caught three passes for 12 yards.
“It was nice to get another game here at Braly Stadium,” Holland said.
“This is just the next step for me to get to the next level, either in the NFL or CFL. I had a lot of fun this week, meeting new guys and seeing how I stack up against them.”
The game was such a success, that St. Lawrence said he wants to bring it back to Florence next year as well.
“We’re most definitely interested in doing the game here again,” St. Lawrence said. “Everyone was very hospitable and really welcomed us. I think this year was great, but next year will be even better.”