Red team tops Gold
Fun and happiness are words that have been synonymous with McDonald’s restaurants over the years. On Thursday night at Nazareth High School’s Andrew Leh Stadium, the atmosphere was like one big birthday party at the PlayPlace as an almost capacity crowd was on hand to watch the 50th annual McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All Star Classic.
The weather was picture perfect as the Red Team, consisting of players from Lehigh, Carbon and Monroe Counties defeated the Gold Team 42-24, which was comprised of players from Northampton County as well as players from Phillipsburg and Palisades High School.
Red didn’t waste any time getting its offense going in this one after it was able to establish solid field position on its opening two possessions. Starting from the Gold 40, a 19-yard run from Emmaus’ Brandon Camire helped setup his one-yard plunge a play later. Red was then able to intercept Gold quarterback Matt Garatty on the ensuing possession when East Stroudsburg North’s Shane Gagnon stood his ground on a crossing route and returned the interception all the way down to the Gold 12-yard line.
A few plays later East Stroudsburg South’s Will Fish hit Villanova commit and teammate Christian Sapp for a seven-yard hookup to get Red out to a 14-0 advantage.
However, Gold was able to mount a bit of a comeback in the second quarter. A special rule in the Classic is if a team is down by nine points or more and scores then that team will get the ball back.
After a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter by Gold’s George Ferrey (Freedom), it received the ball and took advantage, scoring on its next drive on a 46-yard pitch and catch from Garatty to his favorite target on the day in Collin McKeague. Gold then struck again this time on a 35-yard hookup between Garatty and McKeague to give Gold a 17-14 lead with 7:48 remaining in the half.
But Red perhaps came through with its biggest play of the game, answering the Gold run. Red went to the air as well on yet another Cavalier connection - this time from Fish to receiver Evan Roche for six from 43 out to give momentum back to Red (21-17).
But the story of this one was the defensive play of the Red squad in the second half led by Northern Lehigh’s Joe Abidelli and Josh Schaffer. Abidelli made his presence felt on Red’s first defensive possession coming up with an interception near the goal line.
“It was an awesome feeling to get that interception. That was my first ever interception,” said Abidelli. “This was just a great night. We came out here and gave it everything and for me it was just fun to come out here and get some hits in. I played in the East West game last week and I was more in coverage and today I was able to just come out and tackle guys, which was so much fun.”
Red held the Gold squad to just seven second half points and a big reason for that was the play of its front four, which kept pressure on Garatty throughout the game.
“We have some big and strong guys up front on our side and we knew our alignments and our jobs and we went out there and got it done,” said Schaffer. “Playing in front of a full stadium tonight was amazing and this is something you never forget. You get to meet so many guys you would never think of meeting because of this game and I’m just glad we could finish up our high school careers getting a win.”
Red put this one away in the third, outscoring Gold 14-0.
Red 14 7 14 7 - 42
Gold 3 14 0 7 - 24
Red - Camire 1 run (Duffy kick)
Red - Sapp 7 pass from Fish (Duffy kick)
Gold - Ferrey 27 field goal
Gold - McKeague 46 pass from Garatty (Ferrey kick)
Gold - McKeague 35 pass from Garatty (Ferrey kick)
Red - Roche 43 pass from Fish (Duffy kick)
Red - Sapp 27 pass from Fish (Duffy kick)
Red - Rico 2 run (Duffy kick)
Red - Sapp 9 pass from Fish (Duffy kick)
Gold - Cabrera 3 pass from Garatty (Ferrey kick)
Firsts 16 19
Rushing 25-147 24-5
Passing 13-23-0 24-41-2
Pass yards 204 417
Total O 351 422
Punts 2-17 2-33
Fumbles 0-0 2-1
Penalties 13-123 5-60
Rushing: Red - Camire 8-32, Fish 6-33, Rico 6-17, Avdijaj 1-0, Rizzuto 4-65. Gold - Smeland 2-2, Garatty 10-(-20), McKeague 1-1, Cabrera 3-18, Quetel 4-18, Rodriguez 2-2, Team 2-(-16).
Passing: Red - Fish 13-22-0-204, Rizzuto 0-1-0-0. Gold - Garatty 24-41-2-417.
Receiving: Red - Sapp 6-95, Roche 4-103, Rico 1-2, Avdijaj 1-6, Camire 1-(-2). Gold - Rodriguez 4-62, Marron 2-5, McKeague 6-162, Cabrera 6-51, Quetel 2-39, Wells 3-92, Smeland 1-6.