NORTH TONAWANDA -- During the last 10 years, the Kensington Lions All-Star Football Classic was beginning to become a little like the South Invitational, with that team winning six of the last 10 games. But the North would have none of that tradition, as head coach Kraig Kurzanski's squad came out firing and never looked back.
Led by North Tonawanda quarterback and game MVP Scott Gregson, who was 4 of 11 for 33 yards and a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter, the North survived a late surge to take the 32nd Classic, 17-12.
"It's really a nice way we can give everybody a final victory in their career," said Kurzanski, who coaches at Williamsville South. "It was a great effort all around and we're just happy we won, I'm ecstatic."
The South team made the North sweat it out a little in the fourth quarter as quarterback Jeremy Mountain (Maryvale) ran a superb two-minute drill to lead his team down the field on eight plays for 70 yards in 1 minute, 41 seconds.
He connected with Dustin Raynor (Maple Grove) for the South's second touchdown.
Earlier in the fourth, Mountain hit Maryvale teammate and South MVP Matt Mohr six times on a 15-play, 95-yard drive that included a 23-yard pass reception and a 22-yard touchdown reception. Kicker Jake Schum (Frontier) missed the extra point. Mountain finished with 155 yards and two touchdowns. Mohr had eight catches for 131 yards and one touchdown.
"It's great competition," said South and West Seneca East coach Jim Maurino. "It's a shame somebody has to lose but I think our own mistakes hampered us."
The wild fourth quarter also featured a fumbled punt by the South, a block of a 40-yard field goal attempt by the North, and a North takeover on downs at the South 35-yard line that led to a 27-yard field goal by Chris Monaco (Starpoint) to seal the win.
It was a disappointing night for South quarterback Kyle Shevlin (Iroquois). Shevlin, who was coming back after a season-ending broken leg during Iroquois' playoff run, was under center for the South's second possession. On the third play of that drive, Shevlin re-injured his right leg and did not return.
The North jumped to the early lead in the first quarter. Gregson capped off an 11-play, 82-yard drive with a pitch to running back Andre Hakeem (Amherst). Hakeem took the ball 10 yards into the end zone.
"I'm just really excited," Gregson said. "To be able to play my last game here after playing my entire career here, it's like a dream come true."
Medina running back Kevin Dukes completed the North's 16-play drive that lasted 10:13 with a 1-yard touchdown run. Starring on the drive, however, was Gregson. Faced with a fourth down and inches, Gregson snuck his team across the first down marker and spotted the ball at the South 42 to continue the drive.
The game MVPs were, from the South: Mohr, offensive lineman Carlton Byrum (Depew) and defensive back Mike Leavell (Orchard Park). For the North, it was Gregson, offensive lineman Chris Skubis (Clarence) and back John Greer (St. Joe's).