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South's big comeback secures tie
QB McGcovern tosses scoring pass with 2:53 left to deny North win
By Vytas Mazeika
Technically, no one could be declared a winner Saturday night at Levi's Stadium after the 43rd annual Charlie Wedemeyer high school all-star football game.
That's because a fourth-quarter rally by the South erased a two-touchdown halftime deficit and forced a 13-13 tie - the fourth all-time, the most recent coming in 2009.
"It's not over," said South quarterback Tyler McGovern of Oak Grove, Who tossed the game-tying TD pass with 2:53 left in the game after a face-mask penalty by the defense negated a fourth-down interception on the previous play. "That's what I kept telling everybody. As long as there is time on the clock and we've got people on this team, we're going to win this game."
The North, which has yet to experience victory since the Wedemeyer Classic moved to the home of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, forced four turnovers and held its counterpart to only 53 yards from scrimmage in the first half.
But even an interception by St. Francis linebacker Dominic Graziani midway through the fourth quarter was not enough to secure the lead.
"I'm a little disappointed because we were working really hard and jiving as a team and doing a lot of good things, but its all good," Graziani said. "As I look up at my dad up there, it's really about them, the whole Lancer community, this is what I did it for. It was a great game."
The first half clearly belonged to the North, or at least the second quarter.
Each team managed just one first down in the opening 12 minutes and combined for six punts, to go along with a lost fumble and turnover on downs.
But the North broke through with a 35-yard touchdown run by Brandon Inneh, a bruising, 235-pound running back who bounced off defenders before dragging a would-be tackler past the goal line with 7:26 left in the half.
"My coaches were always telling me, 'They're always going to try to go for your legs or are going to try and trip you," Inneh said. "So the only thing that was going through my mind was, 'Get your feet up, get your feet up.' You know that if you let them touch your feet, you're going to go down, so I just kept kicking."
King's Academy cornerback Dezmond Ghafouri gave the North the ball right back inside the red zone with an interception, then Saratoga quarterback William Liddle scrambled 13 yards to pay dirt for a 13-0 lead.
Looking for any signs of life, a fumble recovery by Santa Teresa defensive end Trevor Scheibley at the beginning of the fourth quarter sparked the South's comeback.
McGovern promptly found a streaking Jared King out of Leigh for a 36-yard touchdown with 8:52 left, though the PAT was missed.
The game-tying, seven-play, 83-yard drive extended by the penalty culminated with a 21-yard fade to Live Oak receiver Alex Cornejo.
No one could claim bragging rights, but everyone felt a winner.
"That's the way the game goes," Inneh said. "We're all all-stars here."