When the North-South All-Star Football Classic came down to crunch time Monday night, Caldwell’s Ryan Condit says he was simply the right man in the right spot on two different occasions. Thanks to Condit’s heroics, the North was able to come from behind and win in a defensive battle.
The University of New Haven-bound linebacker made a big interception that led to a go-ahead touchdown and added a big fourth-down tackle late in the game to help the North capture a 14-7 victory at Kean University.
Midway in the fourth quarter, the 5-11, 225-pound Condit stepped in front of Steinert quarterback Adam Reise’s pass for an interception and returned it 45 yards to the South 17. Two plays later, Elizabeth’s Elijah Hughes took a pitch along the left side and scored a 17-yard touchdown run. The second of two extra points by Glen Rock’s Diamo Streaser gave the North a 14-7 lead with six minutes left in the game.
The South, led by the electric running of Pennsauken quarterback Manny Cortez, answered by driving from its own 30 down to the North 12, but that is when Condit stepped up once again. On fourth and 1, Condit squeezed into a pile of bodies and bottled up Colonia running back Greg Jones for no gain with 3:15 remaining in the game.
The North was unable to run out the clock and the South had the ball on the North 45, but Eastside’s Jeron Addison sacked Riese for a 5-yard loss and then put a heavy rush on Riese and forced an incomplete pass with under one minute remaining on fourth and long.
The North was then able to run out the clock.
The South now leads the series in the 34th annual game, 16-15-2 – but the North might not have been able to break through without Condit coming up big in key spots.
Condit doesn’t consider himself a great coverage linebacker, but he sure stepped up when he needed to with the score tied at 7-7.
“All week during practice, the coaches have coached me up,” Condit said. “It’s not a strong point of mine, but they said when No. 9 (Woodbridge’s Anthony Nyers) goes out, I have to cover him. I was just in the right place at the right time, that’s all.”
The humble Condit said that he was in the right spot a short time later, when he made a clean tackle on Jones at the line of scrimmage to thwart a South threat.
“I saw the fullback and coaches said that would be the key all week in practice,” Condit said. “The D-Line did their job and took on the blockers and gave me a chance to make a play. They kept the blocks off of me and I was just in the right place at the right time.”
The South took a 7-0 lead into halftime and the North struggled to put anything together on offense. The South embarked on an 83-yard touchdown drive that began late in the first quarter and it ended when Jones muscled in from 1 yard out. Williamstown’s Mike Burke made the extra point to make the score 7-0.
Wall Township’s Matt Ford, who is headed to Lehigh, and Toms River North’s Grant Duffield (McDaniel College) were two of the main blockers up front for the South during the march, which was paced by South Offensive MVP Cortez, who rushed six times for 44 yards and completed a 25-yard pass early in the drive to Lower Cape May’s Vance Matthews, who is headed to Rutgers.
The South threatened to add to its lead later in the second quarter, but Burke missed a 41-yard field goal due in part to a poor snap. Riese completed a 25-yard pass to Triton’s Brian Keller on the possession’s first play, but the North’d defense stiffened.
The North chose to run the ball to start the second half and completely dominated the South defense, going 78 yards and scoring when Hoboken QB Spencer Perez (Lackawanna College) threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Lakeland’s Jason Fuehring (Moravian), who outworked two defenders to grab the ball.
Perez completed a 20-yard pass to Fuehring on third-and-3 earlier in the drive. The North benefitted from a South facemask penalty on third-and-9 when Perez was sacked by Brick’s Tom Winters.
Cortez led the South offense by rushing 10 times for 53 yards.
Shore players who competed in the game for the South offense included running back John Sieczkowski (Manalapan), receiver Tyheem Crawford (Red Bank), O-linemen Gary Dietrich (Shore); Jake Fernandez (Lacey), Duffield and Ford.
Gavin Riley (Toms River East), Jack Eisenstadt (Rumson-Fair Haven) and Ra’Zahn Howard (Asbury Park) spent time on the defensive line. Winters, Dimitre Christodoylakis (Jackson Memorial) and Mike Wagner (Colts Neck) played linebacker and 2011 Asbury Park Press Offensive Player of the Year Jaheem Woods (Neptune), Joe Johnson (Manchester) and Larry Alston III (Matawan) played defensive back.
North-South All-Star Football Classic
North 0 0 7 7 — 14
South 0 7 0 0 — 7
S–Greg Jones 1 run (Mike Burke kick).
N–Jason Fuehring 27 pass from Spencer Perez (Diamo Streaser kick).
N–Elijah Hughes 17 run (Straser kick).