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North stars win in OT 13-7

December 10, 2009

With their backs against the wall, time and time again, the North team needed some senior leadership, experience and heart Wednesday in the 21st annual John Carrigan Rotary Classic All-Star football game.

Appropriately, there was plenty of it at Sam Sirianni Field in Fort Myers.

The North made several key defensive plays late, blocked a field goal to send it to overtime, and defeated the South 13-7.

Article Photos

Mariner’s Jesus Mendoza (55) tackles a South runner in the second quarter of Wednesday’s Carrigan Rotary South Classic at Edison Stadium. More photos from the game are available online at:

East Lee County's James Holland blasted off the left side for a four-yard touchdown run on the North's first overtime possession, after the South missed a field goal. Ida Baker's Nick Grabowski helped clear the way up front on the final touchdown.

Baker's Johnny Garcia, a Wake Forest recruit, led the defensive charge.

The South threatened to take the lead three times inside the 20 in the fourth quarter and overtime, but the North stood tall. Garcia recovered a fumble at the 1 and twice chased down runners in the backfield, forcing longer field goal attempts.

"It was stressful, but we just worked hard and it took some heart," Garcia said. "We made the plays when it counts and that's what matters."

It is the second overtime game in the history of the annual senior showcase. The previous one came in 1996. That game eventually remained tied, 28-28.

The South squad had a chance to win this one as it attempted a 36-yard field goal with seven seconds left, but Mariner's Eric Mitchell came off the corner and blocked it, forcing overtime.

Mitchell said given that a lot of the players grew up together in Pop Warner, the team bonded together well before the game and it helped in the pressure moments.

"We've known each other since we were little, so first day of practice it was like being at Pop Warner again," he said.

Cypress Lake's Savon Seward was named MVP of the South squad. He rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries. North's Tre Boston took MVP honors for the North.

In a game dominated by running, Boston stood out with four catches for 78 yards. He went up three times and high pointed the ball, with the biggest play being a 29-yard reception from Cape's Jaylen Watkins.

Watkins and Riverdale's Nathan Gahafer took the majority of snaps at quarterback for the North.

"I was just telling my quarterbacks to throw it as far as they can and high," Boston said.

The North showed good chemistry and balance on the opening possession of the game. They drove 93 yards in 11 plays with a mixture of run and pass. Watkins sparked the drive with a 13-yard run and Riverdale's Garrett Greenwell capped it with a one-yard plunge.

The South put together a ball-control drive that bridged the first and second quarter. Lehigh's Larry Overstreet scored on a one-yard run to tie it 7-7.

The second half mostly was defined by the North's bend-but-don't-break defense. They stopped the South on fourth-and-one at the 3-yard line midway through the third quarter.

The close calls continued in the fourth when the South fumbled at the 1 and had the potential game-winning field goal blocked.

The North team featured players from Cape, Mariner, Baker, Island Coast and North, along with East Lee, Riverdale and Evangelical Christian.

One of Cape's standouts, Spencer Boyd, was selected to participate but did not play. He's recovering from an MCL sprain he suffered late in the season, forcing him to miss the Seahawks' two playoff games and the all-star game.

"I know a game like this would've been a lot fun and an honor to play in," he said. "Even though there is a lot of trash talking all year, it's all love."

Boyd committed to Notre Dame prior to the season and the Irish are still "100 percent solid" despite the recent firing of coach Charlie Weis.

"They sent me a letter saying they were still honoring my scholarship," he said. "About the only thing I feared was a new coach coming in and maybe not honoring the recruits, but that's not the case."

North 7 0 0 0 6 - 13

South 0 7 0 0 0 - 7

First Quarter

North - Garrett Greenwell 1 run (Jesus Mendoza kick)

Second Quarter

South - Larry Overstreet 1 run (Elias Mayer kick)


North - James Holland 4 run



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