South edges North in Foothills Football Classic
Mike Constantine grabbed a 16-yard touchdown pass with 4:04 left to lift the South All-Stars to a thrilling 9-8 victory against the North in the eighth annual Foothills Football Classic on Saturday night at East Allegheny High School.
The winning touchdown capped off a 31-yard drive after a short punt.
Constantine, who will be attending Duquesne University, hauled in a flat pass from quarterback Quenton Sutton of Clairton, made a tackler miss near the 15 and rambled through two other defenders and into the end zone.
"I'm not one to get the ball a whole lot, but when I get it, I try to take advantage of it," Constantine said. "We seemed to click. We wanted to get out there and play and win."
The score was setup by Elizabeth Forward's Ryan Abels, whose 7-yard run on fourth down kept the drive alive. Abels took a pitch and headed left. He stopped when the North defense seemed to have him cut off, then darted back to his right and dove for the first down.
The South grabbed a 3-0 lead early in the third quarter when Jonathan Browne of Thomas Jefferson booted a 33-yard field goal after Tyler Altman of Greater Latrobe recovered an Antwan Coleman (Woodland Hills) fumble at the North 16.
Linebacker Jon Drager of Thomas Jefferson forced Coleman to fumble with a big hit.
Drager was named the MVP for his defensive play. He also stopped Morgan on a fourth-down run in the fourth quarter at the South 30.
He said he was surprised that he was named.
"Everyone deserved the honor," Drager said. "I would have voted for Mike (Constantine)."
Drager was inserted at linebacker because of injuries to two players.
"I've never played linebacker," he said. "In high school, I played defensive back."
South coach Jim Ward said the staff taught Drager what to do at halftime.
"He's an athlete," Ward said. "We wanted him to just make plays, and he did. I'm not surprised at all that he was named MVP."
The North grabbed an 8-3 lead when Braylon Hardy of Jeannette picked up a Sutton fumbled and raced 83 yards for the score. The Woodland Hills duo of Chris Morgan and Antwan Coleman hooked up on a two-point conversion pass. Hardy's Jeannette teammate, Bryan Davis, forced the ball when he hit Sutton.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the first half.
The North drove to the South 5 on its first possession of the game, but on first-and-goal from the 6, Morgan fumbled and Art Simpson (Monessen) recovered for the South.
The South moved to the North 2 early in the second quarter, but Davis dropped Drager for a 2-yard loss and a series of penalties forced the South back to the 36, where it punted.
Defensive back Josh Allen (Yough) also had a big first half for the South. He killed two North drives by intercepting Antwan Coleman passes deep in South's territory.
His first swipe was at the South 21 in the first quarter, and the second interception was at the South 10 in the second quarter. He also knocked down a pass in the second quarter.
Allen earned MVP honors for the South squad.
"It was a great honor to be singled out amongst so many great players," Allen said. "On the first interception, I was in the right place at the right time. On the second one, the cornerback did his job, and it allowed me to be open to catch the ball."
The last scoring chance of the first half came after the North turned the ball over for the fourth time in the opening half. Browne attempted a 56-yard field goal on the final play of the half, but the kick fell short.
Morgan and Hardy shared MVP honors for the North. Morgan finished with 132 yards on 18 carries.
Ricardo Stuvaints of McKeesport led the South ground attack with 96 yards on 18 carries. Abels added 53 yards, and Drager chipped in with 52.
Cameron McBride of McKeesport and Windel Cox of Duquesne had huge games defensively for the South, while Brady McMahon of Penn Hills, Derek Ferrier of Greensburg Salem and Davis were some of the defensive standouts for the North.