WALTHAM – Maybe practice can be a little overrated.
During Friday night’s Shriners game at Bentley, South coach Jim Artz of the North crafted a play the team had never worked on before.
The play, a halfback option, worked perfectly, as Foxboro’s Dylan Gordon hit Taunton’s Trent Santos for a 9-yard touchdown that completed the scoring.
The South cruised to a 20-17 victory over the North in the 44th edition of the All-Star Game, in what was truly a classic for this lore-rich event.
The South trailed, 17-14, in the second half before embarking on a mammoth 10-minute drive that was mostly on the ground. Gordon, who rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries, was the workhorse of his future college field. But with the South facing a third and a goal from the north line from 9 yards, Artz wanted to see what Gordon’s arm could do.
“I just asked him, ‘Can you throw the ball?’ because he’s such a workaholic,” Artz said. “And he lied. He said yes.’ And then he tells me afterwards, he says, ‘Yeah, I can’t throw.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you made it work for one.’ ”
“We didn’t practice that game at all in training,” Gordon said. “(Artz) just said, ‘Gordon, can you throw the ball?’ Honestly, I really can’t. I don’t know how it happened, to be honest. But all the Foxboro guys at home, they love to make fun of me because I can’t throw the ball. But you know what? It worked. Another Hockomock League connection, Santos. I’m just glad it worked.
Gordon sent the ball into the back right corner of the end zone, and Santos did a terrific job of getting his feet inbounds and snatching the ball from the defender.
However, the North was not left out. In the last five minutes, North made two drives in South territory, thanks in part to a turnover on lows near midfield by South. North Andover North quarterback Jack O’Connell, who completed 12 of 25 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, was accurate with his throws all night, but South defensive backs made huge plays to prevent scores.
“I can’t say enough about the whole group that was here,” Artz said. “They’ve just worked so hard to try to get this kind of product on the field in two weeks when the kids have tournament games and still go to baseball tournaments, tournament lacrosse. And for it to be the finished product (it was amazing). We drew a few games in the sand today.
The North quickly took the lead, as Everett running back JC Clerveaux took a stint on the first play from scrimmage, burst into the secondary, cocked a defender and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, the North pushed their lead to 10-0 on a crushing 47-yard field goal from Billerica’s Shaan Rana that would have been good from 57.
That’s how it stayed until half-time, but the South, who moved the ball well in the first half but couldn’t do anything, didn’t have those problems in the later stages. .
On the first drive of the third quarter, Franklin quarterback Jared Arone hit Santos for 43 yards. It helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by North Attleboro – and future Bentley player – Tyler DeMattio.
After that, King Philip’s Crawford Cantave made a 55-yard interception and return to restart DeMattio, this time going 2 yards as South took a 14-10 lead.
Due to his baseball commitment for North Attleboro, DeMattio only did one practice. But he says it was productive.
“Just being able to go out and have that day with the boys creates that chemistry that really helped in my opinion,” DeMattio said. “We came here and just played football because we all know we can do it. I just did our thing.
And O’Connell – who goes to Stonehill – did his thing on net possession, as he hit Wayland’s Adam Goodfellow on a 43-yard touchdown pass to help the North regain the lead at 17-14 .
But thanks to Gordon and a little action on the playing field on the next drive, the South had the last laugh.