The first half of the 39th Phil Simms North-South High School Football All-Star Classic game at Kean University on Monday night featured more a tug of war between both teams as both offenses moved the ball downfield but defenses came up with the stops when they needed to. The end result was a 30-22 victory for the South squad.
After a three and out by the North with six and half minutes remaining in the first quarter, the South drove down the field aided by a couple of penalties assessed against the North’s defense plus Nasir Streeter of Camden Catholic gaining six yards on a 4th & 1 at the seven-yard line. Streeter capped off a 12-play 79-yard drive that consumed almost three minutes off the clock.
In the second quarter, the South had an opportunity to go up by ten points but kicker Jordan Goodarz from Steinart missed a chip shot field goal. North quarterback Jyvon Brown from Irvington would go to work scrambling for 23 yards. Facing a 3rd & 10 from the 43, Brown connected with Jeramie Simmons for 15 yards.
As time winded down in the first half, Brown launched a strike down the left sideline that Ramir Tann-Davis hauled in for a 42-yard score. However, linebacker Amir Murray from Willingboro blocked the extra point leaving the score 7-6 at halftime.
The second half was a completely different story as both teams’ had no problems putting up points on the scoreboard. Receiving the second half kickoff, the North continued to be dodged by the miscues fumbling the ball away and Murray in the right spot to recover the ball at the 20-yard line. The North defense rose to the occasion stopping the South offense from advancing the ball any further and forcing a field goal attempt. This time around Goodarz did not miss booting home a 22-yarder. Following a North three-and-out, Keanu Chapman from the South electrified the crowd returning the ensuing punt 49 yards to the house extending South’s lead to 17-6.
Undeterred, the North responded in prompt fashion on their next possession. Coming in to play quarterback, Nick Cherasero of North Plainfield who is attending Villanova University, completed a key 3rd & 9 at the 45 to wide receiver Zahir Wilder of Rahway for a first down.
Running back Isaiah Byrd of Rahway took it from there darting for 20 yard down to the two-yard line and on first and goal plowing straight ahead for the score. After being backed flagged for an illegal procedure penalty on a two-point conversion did not phase Brown at all, initially stopped at the line of scrimmage, Brown turned the corner on the right side of the line and sprinted down the sideline extending the ball across the pylon trimming the deficit to 17-14.
The North defense did its part forcing a quick three-and-out by the South but the North could not seize the momentum on the next offensive series. Chapman made his mark on special teams again returning a punt to the 41. Streeter churned out yardage with runs of 13 and 11 yards.
J.J. Scarpello (South MVP) of Seneca came into play quarterback which immediately paid off as Joseph hit wide receiver Darrion Carrington in the flat and Carrington utilized his speed blazing down the left sideline untouched for a 27-yard score but the extra-point was blocked making it 23-14.
“Good to have all these big wide outs, they got such good hands and make my job easier,” said Scarpello. “I throw it up and they do all the rest. A wild second half and out defense really stepped it up and a lot of big turnovers and made our job on offense easy and offensive line did a great job up front all night.”
“Being able to sit back there and have time and Nasir making good runs. I was so happy to play with these guys and read about them in the newspaper and having an opportunity to come up and play with them. Playing with all these guys and hard work they put in each day and dedication and really shows what South Jersey football is all about.”
“I was honored to represent my school today and awesome experience and as soon as I heard when Phil Simms would be here I was floored and in the same area as him after everything he did in his career.”
On the North’s next offensive possession, the turnover bug bit again as defensive back Keith Cooper picked off a Brown pass. Starting out at the North 48, Streeter racked up additional yards gaining 15 and on 2nd & 7 at the 30 broke away from the pack and rumbled down left sideline unscathed for the score widening the advantage to 3-14.
Matching Streeter’s offensive accomplishments, Isaiah Byrd (North MVP) made his name known as well. First Cherasero completed a 33-yard pass to Simmons. On 2nd and goal from the two, Byrd powered his way ahead for 2nd score of the night. Byrd was not done adding to the score sheet bulldozing in the end zone on the two-point conversion slicing the lead down to 3-22 with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter but that would be as close as the North would get as the South ran out the clock for the victory.