BOONEVILLE, Miss. - Defense ruled the day in the thirty-ninth annual Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-Star Football Classic held on the campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College Saturday, December 1.

In the annual battle between the North and South all-stars, the South was finally able to break the tie in the overall series with a 17-3 win over the North and captured a 19-18-2 lead in the all-time series.

Northeast has served as host of the annual event for 26 consecutive years dating back to the mid-1980s.

Mississippi's South defense, under the direction of Hinds Community College's Gene Murphy, wasted little time in putting points on the board after the North held the South offense to a three-and-out on the game's opening drive.

Murphy's South unit was able to force a score on the North's first offensive play of the game when a bad snap landed at the North 10 and Hinds defensive lineman Rondrick Ragsdale (6-4, 230) was able to corral the fumble at the North 8 and rumble in for the game's initial points.

Northeast's Chris Cooper, who served as placekicker for both squads, tacked on the extra point attempt to give the South a 7-0 advantage with 21:51 left in the opening half.

Instead of playing normal 15-minute quarters, the annual all-star event is split into two 25-minute halves.

With defenses controlling much of the action, scoring was at a premium with Cooper accounting for all the remaining points of the first half.

Mississippi's North all-stars, under the direction of Coahoma Community College's Freeman Horton, were able to put a solid drive together midway through the first half but the South all-stars held the North to a 30-yard Cooper field goal with 11:21 to go in the opening half.

Mississippi Gulf Coast defensive lineman Travis Taylor (6-3, 235) looked to give the South a golden opportunity for another score when the Bulldog sophomore recovered a North fumble near midfield at the 3:09 mark but the North defense forced a punt from Southwest's Justin Holt (6-1, 180).

That was not the case on the North's third turnover when Pearl River defensive back Leon Carlton picked off a North pass at the South 40 with 44 seconds to go in the opening half.

Murphy's South squad was able to close within field goal range for Cooper and the Northeast placekicker put the South up 10-3 at the break with a 37-yard field goal as time expired.

The South squad tacked on another score late in the second half as Mississippi Gulf Coast teammates Clint Hatten and Cade Amaker connected on a 14-yard pass from Hatten to the tight end with 5:12 remaining in the game.

Freeman's North squad pushed the South defense to its limit on the North's final possession of the game and drove deep into South territory only to see its best drive of the day end with a Kiwaski Tenner (Hinds) interception in the corner of the end zone with 1:07 showing.

Overall, Northeast had nine players suit up for the North all-stars. Five Tigers -- Nolan Genovese (5-10, 195) of Corinth, wide receiver JaMarius Tallie (7-0, 185) of West Point and offensive linemen Brandon Avant (6-3, 305) of Maben, Collin Stubblefield (6-0, 290) of New Albany and Anthony Kibler (6-6, 350) of Okeechobee, Florida -- saw action on the offensive side of the ball for the North.

Defensive lineman Chris Wolfe (6-0, 310) of Columbus and Kareem Brown (5-9, 180) of New Albany were part of the North defensive squad while Northeast athletes comprised the entire North special teams with Jonathan Harrison (6-6, 195) of Belmont handling punting duties and Cooper (5-11, 185) of Madison picking up the place kicking duties.

Game honors went to Tyshun Austin of Coahoma Community College who received the Hubert Tucker Offensive Most Valuable Player Award for the North. The North Offensive Most Valuable Player award is named for former Northeast head football coach who passed away in an automobile accident in 1995.

Hatten was picked as the South Offensive Most Valuable Player Award and received the Keith Daniels Award.

The South Offensive Most Valuable Player award is named for former Pearl River head football coach Keith Daniels who passed away suddenly in 2000.

Northeast's Kareem Brown was award the North Defensive Most Valuable Player award after racking up four solo tackles and two pass break-ups.

South Defensive Most Valuable Player Award went to Ragsdale.

Ragsdale also was selected as the Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-Star Football Classic Most Valuable Player and received the James H. "Wooky" Gray MVP Award. The overall game MVP award is named for former Mississippi Delta head coach James Gray who passed away in 1996.