As a sought-after Division I college football prospect, Providence Day wide receiver Bryon Fields knows his way around most situations on a football field.
But in the final few seconds of the first half of Saturday’s Oasis Shrine Classic, he broke new ground. His first punt block, followed by a 71-yard return for a touchdown, sparked his North Carolina team to a 27-6 victory over South Carolina in the annual battle of all-stars from private schools in the two states.
Fields, who has committed to play at Duke, scored another touchdown on an 8-yard run as North Carolina avenged a 25-24 loss to South Carolina in last year’s game.
As in many all-star contests, the game-turning play was born out of improvisation and teamwork from unexpected places. Fields picked up the ball on a convenient hop after coming in uncontested for the block and reached the end zone as time ran out in the first half.
“We’ve been practicing punt blocks all week,” Fields said. “I just came in off the edge of the play. I’ve never blocked a punt before, so I didn’t know what to do at first. I got lucky on the bounce and got a great block from my buddy Dez Lawrence (from rival Charlotte Christian) and just took off. It was a lot of fun.”
The touchdown gave the North Carolinians a 14-6 lead and a little breathing room in what had been a tight game.
South Carolina got its only score at the end of a 74-yard drive after the teams had jockeyed for field position for most of the first quarter. Quarterback Tyler Robinson of Augusta Christian scored on a 1-yard keeper on the final play of the quarter.
But the North Carolina defense came up with the first of two big plays to take the lead to the halftime break. Westminster Catawba Christian’s Jake Wentworth ran back an interception to the S.C. 48 to set up Fields’ touchdown run with 1:41 left in the half.
South Carolina drove to the N.C. 23 on its next possession before Fields blocked Tyler Chisholm’s 40-yard field goal attempt.
“The scoop and score was huge for us,” N.C. coach Mark Moroz of Asheville’s Christ School said. “It’s tough to put together a team in four days of guys who have been enemies for the last 12 weeks, but our guys jelled very quickly. Our defense just flew around all afternoon.”
North Carolina pulled away in the second half. Running back Russell Washington of Harrells Christian Academy ended a 69-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and kicker Blake Brewer of The Cannon School made field goals of 37 and 29 yards.
Fields was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and Brewer was named Best Offensive Player.