Offenses usually don't click with precision in All-Star games because of the lack of preparation time, but sometimes even a busted assignment brings good results.
Jason Johnson, who was supposed to be the lead blocker on an option play, was the surprise recipient of a pitchout from quarterback Wes Phillips in Wednesday night's Kensington Lions Club-Tops Western New York All-Star Football Classic at Williamsville South.
Johnson turned it into a 16-yard run for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:42 left in the third quarter as the North defeated the South, 17-7, before a crowd of about 3,500.
"It was a speed option where we don't block the defensive end but we do block the cornerback," North coach Charlie Jufer of Wilson said. "The fullback is supposed to be the lead blocker and the pitch is supposed to go to the tailback. The corner must have guessed where the pitch was supposed to go and left the fullback alone."
Later, another ad-libbed play, a 19-yard reverse by Dan Tryon of Amherst, led to a clinching field goal of 19 yards by Dan Hammister of Williamsville East.
Tryon, who also caught a 22-yard pass from quarterback Gregg Barton for the other North touchdown, was chosen his team's most valuable player on offense. The North defensive MVP was tackle Marcus Holloway of Sweet Home. It was Holloway who recovered a third-quarter fumble by Josh Haas (St. Francis) of the South at the North 47. That positioned the North for its 53-yard TD drive, capped by Johnson's run.
A.J. Wright of Nichols stripped Haas of the ball afterward and Holloway fell on it.
"It looked like the back was going to go down as soon as A.J. hit him," Holloway said. "But he didn't want to go down. Then I saw the ball come out and I went for it. I was thinking about picking it up and going all the way, but everybody jumped on me."
The South took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on an 11-yard run by Carlos Spencer of South Park, but was turned back two more times when 35-yard field goal tries by Dan Martin of Lake Shore were wide right, both by a narrow margin. A 46-yard pass from Brian Ayrault (Orchard Park) to Chris Marinaro (Timon/St. Jude) set up the Spencer touchdown.
"What we didn't have," said South coach Gary Gresock, "were big plays to capitalize on the opportunities we had. We had a nice drive at the beginning of the game but we never really got back in sync after that."
The final margin might have been larger were it not for two goal-line stands by the South. The first led to a 20-yard field goal try by Hammister early in the fourth quarter that hit the left upright. The second was before Hammister's successful three-pointer.
Trailing, 14-7, with 5:29 to go, the South gambled with from formation on fourth-and-4 at the North 39. However, Jeff Piscitelli's knee was down as he fielded a low snap and the play was ruled dead.
South MVPs were Spencer on offense and linebacker Mike Amodeo (Springville). Brian Salay (North Tonawanda) was selected the outstanding lineman for the North. Mike Stachewicz (Depew) was the outstanding lineman for the South.
The Bob Kalsu Memorial Scholarship Award, given by the Buffalo Bills Booster Club in memory of the former Bills guard who was killed in Vietnam, went to South tackle Joe Van Slycke of Timon/St. Jude.