UNION, NJ – There were supposed to be two recently graduated Piscataway High School football players playing in the 39th annual Phil Simms North-South All-Star Classic Monday night at Kean University, Elijah Barnwell and Abdel Mohamed, but only Mohamed took part in the contest.
Barnwell, the Chiefs’ all-time rushing leader with 5,728 yards on the ground with 75 touchdowns, enrolled at Rutgers on Sunday and started classes on Monday. Mohamed started at defensive tackle for the South team, which topped the North, 30-22, at Alumni Stadium.
The big 6-foot-2, 280-pounder held his own, ate up space, was disruptive getting into the backfield, and even chased down a fleet-footed and athletic North quarterback down the sideline to register a tackle.
All-in-all, Mohamed had a great time.
“It was good, there was good competition,” said Mohamed, who helped anchor the offensive and defensive lines for PHS, helping the Chiefs earn the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 5 sectional title this past winter. “Best of the north and best of the south, we came out and competed, man,”
“I think I did pretty well,” he added. “It wasn’t the best game I’ve ever had but I can improve. I had some QB pressures, almost had two sacks, and was in on some plays.”
Mohamed’s South squad took a 7-6 lead into the half and later built up a 30-14 advantage with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter as Seneca quarterback J.J. Scarpello threw a well-placed ball into the hands of Darrion Carrington of Toms River North for a touchdown.
Carteret’s Keanu Chapman returned a punt for a score, while Camden Catholic’s Nasir Streeter scooted in for a 30-yard rushing touchdown, and kicker Jordan Goodarz of Steinert connected on a 22-yard field goal.
But North wouldn’t go down without a fight as Roselle running back Isaiah Byrd scored two rushing touchdowns and two two-point conversions, including a one-yard score and conversion with 3:19 left in the ballgame to cut the deficit to 30-22.
North’s defense held South as they tried to milk the clock and forced a punt, but the return man muffed it and South jumped on it with 12 seconds remaining and proceeded to take a knee for the win.
With the victory, South, which has won two of the last three games, takes an 18-17-2 series lead in the contest which dates back to 1979.
For the game, Scarpello finished 11-for-18 passing for 150 yards and a score while Carrington totaled five catches for 115 of those yards and the touchdown. Streeter had 106 yards on 20 carries and two scores on the ground as well.
Byrd, who is walking-on at Rutgers, ended the contest with 58 rushing yards and two scores. Irvington signal caller Jyvon Brown connected with Paterson Eastside receiver Ramir Tann-Davis on a 42-yard pitch-and-catch in the second quarter as well.
Coming out of high school, Mohamed would have loved to go play at a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school, but instead will go the junior college at Lackawana hoping to get his academics in order. Then, after two years, Mohamed hopes to transfer to a high-level program, do damage, and make it to the NFL.
“I chose to go there because me and life (just didn’t get along),” said Mohamed, who racked up 39 tackles including 19 for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2016. “I didn’t do good in school and I just have to go there and get my grades up and hopefully go D-1 and just compete, compete, compete.”
At Lackawana, Mohamed will be joined by two other fellow Class of 2016 graduates and football teammates Brevin Donerson and Ibn Robinson.
“It’s pretty cool,” Mohamed said about all three going to the same college. “We have good chemistry. We’re going to go there and help take care of each other and go onto the next level.”
If all things go well, Mohamed will play in the 2017 Snapple Bowl on July 20 at Kean as well.
Dave Szott North Offensive MVP: Isaiah Byrd (Roselle)
Jim Burt North Defensive MVP: Harrison Fernandez (Union City)
Joe Theismann South Offensive MVP: J.J. Scarpello (Seneca)
Jim Jeffcoat South Defensive MVP: Amir Murray (Willingboro)
S: Nasir Streeter 1 run (Jordan Goodarz kick)
N:Ramir Tann-Davis 42 pass from Jyvon Brown (kick blocked)
S: FG Goodarz 22
S: Keanu Chapman 47 punt return (Goodarz kick)
N: Isaiah Byrd 2 run (Byrd run)
S: Darrion Carrington 27 pass from J.J. Scarpello (kick failed)
S: Streeter 30 run (Goodarz kick)
N: Byrd 1 run (Byrd run)
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