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Linden's Juwan Dolbrice of the North is on the move vs. the South in Monday night's 37th Phil Simms New Jersey North-South All-Star Classic at Kean University. (Photo by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

Special Teams & Points Off Turnovers
Lift South Past North In Simms Classic  

By JR Parachini
Covering high school football since 1982
and Union County since 1991

UNION – Pretty standard football discussion includes arguments about what offense to run or what defense to be in.

But what about special teams?

That part of the game - often ignored - is just as important as offense and defense.

For the South, excelling on special teams was – perhaps – the biggest reason why it came out on top again.

The South was sparked by three field goals in four attempts from Vincente Mota of Long Branch and on the first play of the second half Matt Castranova of Jackson returned the kickoff 100 yards to give the South back the lead.

In addition, the South scored 10 points off North turnovers – the North turned the ball over three times total – including scoring three after the North lost a fumble on a punt return in the second quarter and then in the third quarter the North lost a fumble on a kickoff return, with the South following that up by scoring seven points to add to its lead.

Then with the game on the line, South defensive lineman Charles Mitchell of Piscataway sacked North quarterback Rylan Panghorn of Lenape Valley in South territory on the final play to clinch the South’s 18th victory and second straight.

The South held on to edge the North 23-21 in Monday night’s 37th annual Phil Simms North-South High School All-Star Football Classic, which was held at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium for the sixth time and first time since 2013.

SOUTH OFFENSIVE MVP: Vincente Mota, Long Branch, PK

SOUTH DEFENSIVE MVP: Justin Thompson, Palmyra, L

NORTH OFFENSIVE MVP: Juwan Dolbrice, Linden, KR-QB

NORTH DEFENSIVE MVP: Tevaughn Grant, Paterson Eastside, L

The South, with Mota gaining South Offensive MVP honors, now leads the series 18-16-2.

The North, which led last year’s game at Piscataway High School going into the fourth quarter before falling 20-14, has still never led in the series and will now have to win the next three games in order to do so for the first time.

The South overcame deficits of 7-6 at the half and 14-13 early in the third quarter to take control.

After missing his first field goal attempt of 33 yards wide right with 5:55 left in the first quarter, Mota came back to nail a 45-yarder with just 55 seconds left in the period to put the South ahead 3-0.

Mota then made a 37-yarder with 6:20 to go in the second quarter to make it 6-0.

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