Gray 31, Blue 24
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Auburn’s Karsten Bailey and LSU’s Joe Wesley, two players from highly disappointing teams, scored pivotal touchdowns Friday to lead the Blue to a 31-24 win in the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic.
Bailey, who ended the year as Auburn’s career reception leader in the Tigers’ (3-8) worst season since 1952, caught a 65-yard touchdown catch from Wake Forest’s Brian Kuklick with 5:11 to play to put the Blue up 31-24.
Wesley, a linebacker for LSU’s (4-7) maligned defense, returned an interception 82 yards to tie it 24-24 with 12:31 to play. His interception broke the 60-year-old Blue-Gray record for longest interception for a score, which was 62 yards set by Mississippi’s Bill Schneller.
Bailey was honored as the Gray team’s most valuable player and Wesley was selected as its most valuable defensive player.
Another Auburn player, cornerback Jayson Bray, came up with two game-saving plays. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Blue quarterback Kevin Daft of California-Davis fumbled. Bray recovered, leading to Bailey’s winning score.
With 22 seconds left, Bray intercepted Daft’s pass to seal the outcome.
Stacey Mack, a running back from Temple who had gone unnoticed this week in the shadows of Division II star Brian Shay of Emporia State, led the Blue team with three touchdowns and was chosen as its most valuable offensive player.
It was a bittersweet finish to a 1998 season for Bailey and Wesley, who both expected to be elsewhere on Christmas Day. LSU was a preseason contender for the national championship and Auburn was the defending SEC West Division champions.
But Auburn struggled offensively all season and Bailey felt he never had a chance to put up the numbers he thought he was capable of. He broke the Tigers’ career reception record in a losing effort and said it prevented him from enjoying the feat.
Playing for an LSU defense that failed to produce, Wesley and his teammates took much of the blame for the losing season.