After the first half Saturday, it was obvious the Class B all-stars were in for a defensive struggle.
By game's end, only one team could lay claim to any offensive success.
The North All-Stars capitalized on their first offensive drive of the second half with a touchdown, and it held up as the winning points in an 8-0 victory over their counterparts from the South in the 18th annual Class B All-Star game held at Rocky Mountain College's Herb Klindt Field.
Following a scoreless first half, the North All-Stars got in the end zone right away. A 6-play, 65-yard drive was cumulated by a 35-yard scoring pass from Ben Witt of Fort Benton to Tyler Trudeau of St. Ignatius with 12:37 on the clock in the third quarter.
The pass developed after a great out-and-up move by Trudeau, which separated him from the defense.
A subsequent 2-point conversion, scored on a Witt pass to Leif Sorenson of Glasgow, capped the scoring.
"I was expecting both teams to get a few more points," said North running back Tony May of Fairfield, who was named his team's offensive MVP after the game with 94 yards rushing on 17 carries.
"But our offense played well, and our defense did the job."
On a few occasions, the North defense made crucial stops to preserve the shutout.
None were bigger, however, than on the last drive when the team forced the South squad to turn the ball over on downs inside the 40 yard line with just over a minute to play.
"We would have liked to get on the board," said South quarterback K.C. Barrett of Red Lodge. "There were a couple key mistakes by us on offense. They had one big play offensively, and that happened to be our downfall."
The South's offense delivered the game's biggest play in the fourth quarter on a double-pass that went for 66 yards.
South QB Matt Cutler of Deer Lodge completed the initial lateral feed to wideout Taylor Blakely of Three Forks, who then heaved the ball deep down field to Justin Fahrenbruck of Forsyth for the big gain.
The South team was set up at that point with a first-and-10 from the 12 yard line, but on the very next play, Cut Bank's Adam Warner picked off an errant pass for the North to snuff out the drive.
In the end, those defensive plays were the story of the game.
"We stepped up today on defense," said North defensive MVP Matt Whelchel of Cut Bank. "Big players make big plays, and that's what we did."
Each team had two takeaways.
For his effort, Blakely was named the South's offensive MVP, while Lucas Chaffins of Manhattan was picked as its defensive MVP.
"It was fun to play in this game," Barrett said. "You get to meet a bunch of new players, and being in the South you don't get to see a lot of the boys from up North. It's a nice deal."
North 8, South 0
South 0 0 0 0 — 0
North 0 0 8 0 — 8
South — No scoring.
North — Tyler Trudeau 35 pass from Ben Witt (Leif Sorenson pass from Witt).