INDIANAPOLIS | In a word: turnovers.
The North gave up the ball four times in the first half, leading to 10 points, and the South made it stand up for a 13-7 victory in the Grange Insurance Indiana Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic Friday at North Central.
"We made some mistakes," North coach Mark Hoffman of Valparaiso said. "We weren't patient enough to have the chance to get rolling. It could've gotten ugly, but the defense played really well."
A lost fumble and two interceptions ended the North's three first-quarter drives. The second pick led to a 9-yard pass from Trey Reese to J.D. Robinson early in the second quarter that put the South in front 7-0. The North was driving on its fourth possession when Max Matthews was picked off in end zone by Brian Sutton. His second theft of the game led to a 29-yard Steffen Lewis field goal for a 10-0 advantage that the South took to the half.
"We were backed into some bad spots, but we overcame it," North cornerback Demetri Blanco of Andrean said. "It's frustrating, but at the same time, you understand. Those guys are all all-stars, too."
The North got on the board with seven minutes left in the third quarter when Anthony Yoder found Morton's D'Jari Griffin, the team's MVP, running along the back of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.
"D'Jari's a great athlete," Hoffman said. "All six of our receivers were really good."
A second Lewis field goal, a 36-yarder, made it 13-7 South with 1:16 left in the third quarter, keeping the North within striking distance.
"Coach said 90 percent of defense is from the neck up," Crown Point linebacker Jordan Jurasevich said. "They kept it simple. Everybody knew their assignment. That's why we held them to 13."
The score remained the same, but not without one final North push. On its final series, Griffin got wide open behind the defense deep, but Yoder's pass was out of his reach.
"That's the game," Morton coach Roy Richards, a North assistant, said. "14-13."
"It was a perfect pass," Griffin said. "A couple steps. If I'm 6-(foot)-1, I catch that. But I'm 5-11."
The North returned to the South 23-yard line in the final minute, only to have a scrambling Yoder sacked for a 23-yard loss on third and 10. A jump ball to Griffin on fourth down was batted away.
"We fought back, but we had trouble in the red zone," Hoffman said.
The South increased its edge in the series to 24-21 with the win.