South all-stars breeze by North
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In the typical football all-star game, defense usually rules the day. It’s tougher for offenses to gel with just four or five practices, and the results usually end up with only one or two touchdowns scored.
On Sunday afternoon at Mahopac High School, defense did rule and the scoreboard lit up because of it. The South defense forced four turnovers in the second quarter leading to a 21-point comeback in a 56-21 victory over the North in the 2011 Section 1 Football Exceptional Senior Game.
“Our defense knew we had to cause some turnovers to help out the offense,” Nyack defensive end Quincy Vasser said. “They scored a defensive touchdown when they were up 21-0, so we wanted to answer that.”
The South finally got on the board in the second quarter after a great punt from Roberto Bruno pinned the North inside its 5-yard line. A mishandled snap near the goal line created a mad dash for the football that ended up in the hands of Bronxville linebacker Jackson Conway. He fell on the football for the touchdown.
“Our offense struggled early on, but the defense still played hard and forced some key turnovers,” Conway said. “We did exactly what our coaches said all week, which was score points from the defensive side of the ball.”
The South defense forced three more turnovers in the second quarter behind fumble recoveries from Clarkstown South’s Brian O’Connor and Ruben Demosthene. Anthony Caldararo of New Rochelle also recovered a fumble in the decisive quarter.
The turnovers and momentum shifts were all the offense needed to finally get going. Sleepy Hollow’s Nick Vallo hit Eastchester Rob Carinci with a 29-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-12 play to cut the deficit to one score. On the following drive Blind Brook’s Jamie Ketchabaw hit Ramapo running back Kevin Jocelyn for a 3-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Jocelyn added his second touchdown of the game on a 49-yard sweep around the left end which included a broken tackle and a serious burst of speed. Jocelyn took home the South’s offensive MVP award, rushing for 87 yards on eight carries and catching three passes for 27 yards.
“Kevin can break one at any time, he’s so fast,” South defensive coordinator and Spring Valley head coach Andrew Delva said. “Coaching against him is tough. I’m just glad he was playing on our side finally.”
After halftime, the South defense continued to make plays by limiting the North to just 14 yards of total offense in the half, allowing the offense to continue to roll. Vasser was a big part of that as he took home the South’s defensive MVP award. Many coaches on the sideline felt Vasser was the best player on the entire field.
“I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth it to practice every night down in New Rochelle considering I was coming from Nyack,” Vasser said. “I’m glad I did though because I met a lot different players and different coaches, this was a great experience. It makes me want to play at the next level.”
The South offense clicked in the second half and added three more touchdowns on the ground from Bronxville’s Christian Conway, Irvington’s Kevin Degnan, and Woodlands’ Malcolm Downey. James Cole of Woodlands made a highlight reel touchdown grab from Ardsley’s Dan Stein in the second half too.
In fact, Class B or C players were responsible for at least a part of seven of the game’s 11 touchdowns.
“It’s nice to get recognition from the guys from the bigger schools,” Jackson Conway said. “We’re all used to starting and going both ways, and everyone wants to prove themselves in this type of game.”
For the North, the game started great. Westlake quarterback John D’Onofrio threw a touchdown pass and finished as the team’s leading rusher. The North scored all three of its touchdowns in a four-play span in the first quarter.
After the touchdown pass, the South completed a screen for a loss of three yards. Then, John Jay-Cross River’s Declan Myer intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. On the very next play Poughkeepsie’s Justin Richardson scooped up a fumble and took it to the end zone.
Both offenses got over the turnover bug after halftime, but there was nothing the North could do about the South’s swarming defense — which featured Mount Vernon’s trio of Lance McDowdell, Sherlon Bacchus, and Timothy Hedge who all made big plays.
The conclusion of the Exceptional Senior Game also means the conclusion of the Section 1 football season (with the exceptions of Croton and Dobbs Ferry’s state title games this weekend). It’s something Coach Delva didn’t want to see.
“To see all this talent out here, and coach with great guys like Coach Kev (Bullock from Ramapo) and (the South’s head coach) Meade and his staff (from Woodlands) is great,” Delva said. “I would do it every single year if I could.”
Section 1 Exceptional Senior Bowl
SOUTH 56, NORTH 21
North 21 0 0 0 – 21
South 0 28 7 21 – 56
N- Siddique Haddad 5 pass from John D’Onofrio (Patrick Donahoe kick)
N- Declan Myer 17 interception return (Donahoe kick)
N- Justin Richardson 24 fumble return (Donahoe kick)
S- Jackson Conway 0 fumble return (Roberto Bruno kick)
S- Rob Carinci 29 pass from Nick Vallo (Bruno kick)
S- Kevin Jocelyn 3 pass from Jamie Ketchabaw (Bruno kick)
S- Jocelyn 49 run (Bruno kick)
S- Christian Conway 19 run (Bruno kick)
S- Kevin Degnan 5 run (Bruno kick)
S- James Cole 20 pass from Dan Stein (Bruno kick)
S- Malcolm Downey 5 run (Bruno kick)
Rushing: North-D’Onofrio 8-19, Bobby Henderson 7-18, T.J. Hallock 2-13, Danny Caiola 5-6, Josh Oliver 5-4, Kemar Euter 1-1, Greg Charter 8-(-1), Brian Connolly 2-(-2), Jordan Samuels 1-(-4), Ben Johnson 1-(-10). Total: 40-44. South-Jocelyn 8-87, Downey 10-46, C. Conway 8-43, Degnan 7-16, Ketchabaw 3-12, Brandon Abrahante 2-6, Carinci 2-4, Anthony Cugini 1-1, Vallo 2-(-10), Stein 2-(-16). Totals: 45-189.
Passing: North- Connolly 3-7-47, D’Onofrio 4-10-27-1, Hallock 3-8-20, Oliver 0-1-0. South- Vallo 3-7-51-1, Stein 6-12-46-1, Ketchabaw 4-6-35-1.
Receiving: North- Kevin Murray 4-53, Haddad 1-18, Henderson 2-9, Maliq Wollaston 1-8, Diamonte Robinson 1-7, Samuels 1-(-1). South- Carinci 1-29, Jocelyn 3-27, Cole 2-24, Chris Poyloy 1-19, Cugini 2-19, Andrew DiRienzo 1-5, C. Conway 1-5, Downey 1-4, Kendrick Clavaire 1-0. Total Yards: North- 138. South- 221.
Offensive MVP: North- John D’Onofrio, South- Kevin Jocelyn.
Defensive MVP: North- Declan Myer, South- Quincy Vasser.