North holds on for Lezzer win
The North All-Star team had come up empty on four scoring chances inside the South team’s 15-yard line in the 34th annual Central Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association’s Lezzer Lumber Classic and trailed 6-0 at halftime Friday night at Mansion Park.
But Bellefonte’s Shannon Manning, who served as the head coach for the North team, wasn’t overly concerned.
“We didn’t feel like we weren’t moving the ball in the first half,” Manning said. “We felt good about where we were.”
The North team had a right to feel that way. The North monopolized the clock through most of the second half, putting together three scoring drives to take a 22-6 fourth-quarter lead and hold on for a 22-21 victory.
“We were executing what we were working on,” Manning said. “We weren’t hitting the panic button.”
The South had taken a 6-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown run by Huntingdon’s Bo Border in the second quarter, but the North, led by Curwensville running back Nick Stewart — who was named his team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player after rushing for 118 yards on 14 carries — stormed back.
Stewart’s 20-yard scoring run up the middle with 8:32 left in the third quarter capped an eight-play, 62-yard drive and, with the addition of the first of three conversion kicks by Clearfield’s Jakob Sobrera, gave the North the lead for good, 7-6.
“We should have scored four more touchdowns, but we played hard, and we didn’t put our heads down,” Stewart said of the missed first-half scoring opportunities. “My line blocked like hell today. They were awesome.”
The North put up two more second-half touchdowns to widen the lead before the South team registered its own comeback late in the fourth quarter.
Led by left-handed throwing Curwensville quarterback Bryce Timko, the North drove 64 yards in 10 plays to take a 14-6 lead when Timko bolted 3 yards for the score with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
The next time the North got the ball, it put together an impressive 97-yard scoring drive that started just outside its own end zone and spanned 15 plays, with Clarion High School quarterback Spencer Miller hitting wide-open receiver Ian Barr of State College on a 34-yard touchdown route with 4:48 left in the game.
According to game rules, the North had the option of trying a 2-point conversion kick from 30 yards, and Sobrera made good on it, giving the North a 22-6 lead.
But the South team wasn’t done yet.
After Huntingdon’s Jonathan Price returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the North 31, quarterback Braeden Burchfield of Altoona hit his Mountain Lion teammate, wideout Cam Fasick, with a 31-yard touchdown pass that Fasick made an acrobatic grab of in the end zone to pull the South to within 22-13 with 4:19 left.
Again, according to game rules, the South, trailing by nine points, had the opportunity to get the ball right back and made the best of its next possession, canvassing 53 yards for a touchdown that pulled the South to within one point in the waning minutes.
Burchfield, who completed eight of 17 passes for 104 yards, hit Hollidaysburg’s Jack Sauserman on a 15-yard route and Price with a 13-yard pass before connecting with Bishop Guilfoyle’s Mark Conrad on a 30-yard touchdown strike. Sobrera converted the two-point, 30-yard conversion kick to make it a 22-21 game with 3:10 left.
“We had a good two-minute drill, we just ran out of time,” said Conrad, who also had two interceptions from his safety position on defense and achieved recognition as the South team’s Defensive Player of the Game. “Burchfield made some really good throws, and Cam Fasick made a heck of a catch in the end zone.”
The North got the ball back, and was able to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
The North moved the ball from its own 47 to the South 10 as time ran out. The North put together an exclusive ground drive that featured seven running plays totaling 43 yards, with Bellefonte’s Dexter Gallishaw picking up 16 yards on two carries to highlight the march.
Everybody involved with the game was happy for the opportunity to play in it. And to coach in it.
“It was an all-star game, the kids had fun,” said Huntingdon’s Mike Hudy, who served as the South team’s head coach. “There are good players on both teams, and we got what we expected. It was a very competitive game.”
Conrad, who is headed to Saint Francis University to play football, was one of the game’s stars. Along with his two interceptions on defense, he caught three passes totaling 80 yards on offense, including the 30-yard touchdown pass and a 44-yarder from Claysburg quarterback Ty Hagen that set up the South’s first touchdown, in the second quarter.
“It was really awesome,” Conrad said about playing in Friday’s game. “I just want to thank the Lezzer Lumber company for putting this game together. It brought a lot of good football players together to play one last time in their high school football careers. I was glad to be a part of it.”
Game notes: Huntingdon’s Border, who rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries, was named the South team’s Offensive MVP, while Brockway’s Dylan LeCates was named the North team’s Defensive MVP … Most of the game was played in a steady drizzle, which may have contributed to each team losing two fumbles … Scholarship award winners from the Mirror coverage area included Bishop Guilfoyle’s Nick Leamer and Tyler Berkheimer, Altoona’s Tyler Petucci, and Bellwood-Antis’ Jack Showalter of the South team … Long-time Bishop Guilfoyle Junior High School and Altoona Parochial League football coach Dave Madden was inducted into the Central Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame and recognized in a halftime ceremony. Madden has been coaching football at the junior high level for 40 years.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
South 0 6 0 15 — 21
North 0 0 14 8 — 22
S–Border 12 run (kick failed), 4:45.
N–Stewart 20 run (Sobrera kick), 8:32.
N–Timko 3 run (Sobrera kick), 3:15.
N–Barr 34 pass from Miller (Sobrera kick), 4:48.
S–Fasick 31 pass from Burchfield (Wagner kick), 4:19.
S–Conrad 30 pass from Burchfield (Wagner kick), 3:10.
RUSHING: South–Border 10-85, Martin 5-44, Burchfield 5-18, Hagen 1-3, Price 1-(-1), Team 2-(-14). North–Stewart 14-118, Miller 12-48, Barr 6-44, Lyons 9-24, Gallishaw 2-16, Weaver 1-8, Rapp 1-6, Timko 7-(-3), Clark 2-(-3).
PASSING: South–Burchfield 8-17-0-104, Hagen 2-7-0-43. North–Miller 9-14-2-93, Timko 3-5-0-51.
RECEIVING: South–Conrad 3-80, Fasick 3-32, Sauserman 1-15, Price 1-13, Miller 1-7, Martin 1-0. North–Clark 7-93, Kutches 3-10, Barr 1-34, Carter 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS: South–Conrad 2.
TEAM STATISTICS S N
First downs 12 26
Rushes-yards 24-135 54-258
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 10-24-0 12-19-2
Yards passing 147 144
Total yards 282 402
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2
Penalties-yards 3-30 3-17
Punts-avg. 3-38.3 1-38