Friday, July 11, 2008
North rallies to win O.C. All-Star Football Game
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A 97-yard, four-play drive leads to decisive TD with 56 seconds left in the game.
By STEVE FRYER
COSTA MESA –This was a football game that was a lot like a 1,500-meter race – fairly boring for most of the event, then very exciting at the end.
The North drove 97 yards on four plays, with the fourth play a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Morales of La Habra to receiver Christian Daniel of Canyon with 56 seconds to go to give the North a 12-10 victory in the Brea Lions Orange County North-South Prep All-Star Football Game before a crowd of around 7,000 on Friday night at Orange Coast College.
On that winning touchdown, Morales was being chased down by North defenders when, on the run, he threw to Daniel, who was inbounds by inches when he made the catch.
The drama did not end there. The North lined up for an extra-point kick. The snap went over the head of holder Tyler Ortiz of Pacifica, kicker Petey Puga of La Habra retrieved the bouncing fall, threw to his left to Ortiz at the 11-yard line, and Ortiz ran for the end zone but was stopped just a foot short of the goal line.
There was a facemask penalty against the South, giving the North another shot at extending the lead.
With the ball inside the 1, the North decided to try for two points, but Morales’ pass fell incomplete.
With 49 seconds left, the South started at its 22. Quarterback Chad Miller’s pass on first down, down the middle, was deflected for an incompletion. On second down, Daniel make a leaping interception at the South 41 to clinch the victory.
The North has a 25-21-3 lead in the series. The cumulative score of the 49 games: North 736, South 732.
It was a frustrating game for most of the night for the North offense. North's leading rusher was Valencia’s Wes Fletcher, with only 10 yards on nine carries. Quarterbacks Morales and Blake Hyepock of Orange Lutheran were a combined 15 for 27 for 193 yards and an interception.
North coach Brent McKee of Canyon said it was only a matter of quarterback and receiver getting the timing correct.
“It was one of those things,” McKee said, “where throughout the game we had guys open, but we just couldn’t hit them. I told the guys we had stuff there, but we just weren’t making the plays.”
The South’s offense was not electrifying, either. Running backs Jai Morris of El Toro and Carlo Audagnotti of Santa Margarita combined for 74 yards on 15 carries, and the South threw three interceptions.
Morales was named offensive player of the game. North linebacker Kameron Jones of Los Alamitos was defensive player of the game.
The last of the game’s seventh turnovers seemed likely to have clinched a victory for the South. North receiver Ryan Saumur of Cypress threw an option pass that was intercepted at the South 30 by Fountain Valley’s Bryse Blake, who returned it to the North 39.
The South could not advance the ball from there, but the possession did have a positive outcome when a punt by Foothill’s Chad Miller went out of bounds at the North 3.
Morales connected with tight end Nolan Sheldon for 18 yards, Daniel for 12 and then Troy’s Josh Swaney for a 61-yard gain that put the South on the North 9. The Morales-to-Daniel touchdown followed.
The first turnover was on the game’s first series, as North linebacker Brady Lukas of Esperanza made an interception.
The second turnover came on the next series, as South linebacker Chad Garrett of Tesoro made an interception.
After an exchange of four punts, two per team, a fumbled snap by the North was recovered by South linebacker Earnie Sagiao of Edison at the North 6-yard line. An illegal procedure penalty on the South moved the ball back to the 3.
On the next play South running back Carlo Audagnotti of Santa Margarita took a hand off in the end zone, where Lukas got to him immediately and forced a fumble. The ball bounced toward the back of the end zone, but North linebacker Kameron Jones of Los Alamitos pounced on it before it could cross the line, giving the North a touchdown with 7:59 to go in the half.
The kick for the extra point missed, leaving the North with a 6-0 lead.
Jai Morris of El Toro returned the ensuing kickoff from the South 10 to the North 31. The North could advance only 7 yards from there. Louis Feinstein of University kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 6-3.
The North defense had four sacks in the first half. Offensively in the first half, the North had three first downs, and the South had two.
The South took the lead on its first possession of the third quarter. A 26-yard pass from quarterback Brad Curtis of San Clemente to Blake gave the South a first down at the North 15.
On the next play, Morris took a handoff on a draw, cut left and outsprinted North defenders to the near corner for a touchdown. Feinstein’s kick for the extra point pushed the South's lead to 10-6.