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South prevails in low-scoring Foothills Classic

| Monday, June 23, 2003

NORTH VERSAILLES - When it comes to football all-star games, teams usually combine to pile up points.

That didn't come even close to happening Saturday night in the Foothills Football Classic at East Allegheny Stadium.

The South defeated the North, 9-8, as Yough safety Josh Allen spearheaded the defensive effort with two interceptions for the victors.

While most who attended the game probably expected more scoring, Monessen head coach Joe Fischer was happy with the final score. Fischer served as defensive coordinator for the victorious South.

"Both defenses played well, especially when they had to," Fischer said. "I have to point out my man Josh Allen. His two interceptions stopped drives by the North. He came up big."

Allen, who added four tackles, earned MVP honors for the South.

"This was a team effort," Allen said. "I made the plays that I am supposed to make. We (our defense) clicked all week. We were comfortable with each other."

The North seemed primed to score on the opening drive of the game, but Chris Morgan (Woodland Hills) fumbled the ball at the South's 6-yard line. Art Simpson of Monessen recovered the fumble for the South.

"It was fun playing in a game like this with guys who are this talented and who have good attitudes," Simpson said. "It was also fun to play for Coach (Fischer) one last time."

Morgan would be named the North MVP after rushing for 150 yards on 19 carries.

Neither team would score in the first half. The South's kicker, Jon Browne (Thomas Jefferson), missed a 57-yard field goal attempt as time expired at the end of the second quarter.

Browne redeemed himself with 9:02 left in the third quarter. He kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the South a 3-0 lead.

After forcing a North three-and-out, the South drove to the North's eight-yard line.

On a first and goal, South quarterback Quenton Sutton (Clairton) fumbled and North nose tackle Braylon Hardy (Jeannette) scooped up the ball and rumbled 83 yards for a touchdown with 4:04 left in the third quarter.

The North converted the two-point conversion on a pass from Antawn Coleman (Woodland Hills) to Morgan.

The score remained 8-3 until there was 4:49 left in the game. On second-and-8 from the North 16, Sutton hit Mike Constantine (Hempfield) with a pass in the right flat. The fullback bounced off of two tackles and jumped over another en route to the end zone for the game-winning points.

The drive was kept alive on an incredible run by Elizabeth Forward tailback Ryan Abels. Abels took a pitch left and tried to get to the outside. Nothing developed, so he reversed field and eventually dove for a first down.

"I knew where I had to get on the play," Abels said. "I had a lot of fun playing with these guys."

Chad Giannini of Belle Vernon Area shared Abels thoughts.

"I had a great time," Giannini said. "This truly was a great experience for all of us."

Fischer said the game got him pumped up for the upcoming season.

"This game got me going," Fischer said with a smile. "I am ready for the season to start now. I wish camp started Monday."

GAME NOTES: Allen's two picks matched his total this past season ... Abels finished with 49 yards on eight carries ... Derek Brletich (BVA) was credited with five tackles ... Other local players in the game include Dan Thomas (Monessen), and Ryan Hanus and Tim Miller of Elizabeth Forward.

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