LYNDHURST, NJ - Now for something completely different.
The South squad captured the Bergen County North/South Football All Star Game Friday night, 14-3, at Lyndhurst High School. What should be a game remembered for the South winning for only the second time in the last 18 years, or Wood-Ridge running back Jake Colon being named the game’s Offensive MVP, will be remembered by those in attendance as the “Game That the Referees Walked Out On.”
With approximately six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and the South driving on the North defense, a bench-clearing skirmish broke out. Once order was restored by the coaching staffs of both teams, the officials, after a brief huddle, left the field, ending the game. The announcement was made over the public address system that “since the referees have left the field, the clock will be allowed to just run out, ending the game.”
It was an ending, that no one in attendance had ever seen before.
“There was no need for that,” said Wood-Ridge Assistant Coach JT Kroncke, who has been involved with assisting in this game for the last five seasons. “The game could have continued. Both coaching staffs had gotten their teams under control, and with sitting a few kids out on each side, the game could have continued.”
It took something away from the win from the players and the coaches.
“This is a crazy time of the year, with graduations, proms, and all that,” Kroncke said. “We do this to let the kids get one more chance to play. That is why we are all here. To just have the officials walk out is disappointing."
When asked if the officials had given an explanation for the cancellation, Kroncke stated that one of the officials said “That since everybody on both teams came off the bench, everybody would have to be ejected, so the game was over.”
The crowd, which was at first confused when the referees started walking to the locker room, booed loudly once it became apparent that the referees were ending the game. What was odd was how it happened. With flags scattered around the field, they just picked them up and walked away.
It was the second straight year the game ended early, as last year’s game, which had more skirmishes than this year’s game, was ended with two minutes left, after the North, leading 21-7, recovered a South fumble. Rather than have the North run the clock out and take a knee, the officials just ended the game.
The ending overshadowed some outstanding performances from the South, which dominated the game from the first possession.
After a scoreless first quarter, the South broke through with 7:39 remaining in the second quarter when Saddle Brook’s Kevin Daly hit teammate Jakub Dmitruk for a 38 yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.
The North got on the board with 22 seconds remaining in the half, on a field goal from New Milford’s Brian Johnson from 28 yards to cut the score to 7-3.
Wood-Ridge’s Johnoi Martin’s reception moved the ball into scoring position on the South’s last gasp drive in the first half, but was unable to get out of bounds before the clock ran out,
It was a Wood-Ridge drive in the third quarter that put the game away, as a reception for Martin from Rutherford’s Kyle Russell moved the ball into North territory. A short time later, Colon, ripped off runs of 20 yards and 16 yards, the final resulting in a South touchdown and a 13-3 lead. Lyndhurst’s Ben Franchino kicked his second extra point of the game to make the score 14-3 with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter.
The North tried to bounce back, driving into the South territory, but Westwood quarterback Anthony Corrubia was sacked as he was trying to throw a pass on fourth down, which was scooped up by the South defense, but immediately blown dead as an incomplete pass.
The South took over on offense, and after runs by Rutherford’s Abellany Mendez and Justin Finelli, the fireworks occurred which ended the game.
Colon was awarded the game’s Offensive MVP Award, while Teaneck linebacker Nadame Tucker was awarded the Defensive MVP. The hit of the night belonged to Lodi linebacker Matt Bruno, who leveled Dumont’s Matthew Devito. Devito was blocking on the kickoff return following Colon’s touchdown, when he was flattened by Bruno.
Colon was happy after the game.
"It was great, one more game with my guys," said Colon. "We even had most of our coaches helping out, it made it special."
Colon who is attending East Stroudsburg University to play linebacker, admitted it was fun to being playing running back in the game.
"Maybe I will have to send the coaches the tape and ask if they want to reconsider where they want me to play, " Colon said jokingly afterwards.
|North - Daly to Dmitruk (Franchino kick)|
|South - Johnson 28 Field Goal|
|North - Colon 16 yard touchdown (Franchino Kick)|
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