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Gold wins Football Classic

The early part of the recent McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic didn’t look much like most all-star contests.

There wasn’t a lot scoring and both teams were playing stingy defense as only one touchdown was scored in the first half. The second half saw five scores with the Gold team holding on for a 24-21 win.

The Gold team, which was made up of senior players from Northampton County high schools and Phillipsburg, NJ, and Palisades, took a 10-0 lead in the first half but a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns helped the Red team take a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we had it locked up there,” said Parkland linebacker Nico Medlar, who had the second of those two pick sixes to give his team a lead with 4:43 left in the game. “The Gold squad, I can’t say enough about them. They have plenty of talent over there, as we do here, and they came out on top unfortunately.”

The Gold team took the lead on 17-yard Matthew Clark (Easton) field goal early in the second quarter. They extended it with a 1-yard run by Marcus Williams (Easton) with 13 seconds left in the first half.

The touchdown was set up by two big pass plays from Easton quarterback Cole Transue. He hit Nadir Sanders (Notre Dame GP) for 10 yards on a third-and-10 then connected with Zack Gillen (Wilson) on a 35-yard pass to the 1-yard line.

The Gold went ahead 17-0 when Transue hit Gillen again for 35 yards, this time for a score less than three minutes into the second half.

The Red team, made up players from Lehigh and Monroe counties, along with some Carbon County players, got on the board when Ty Tremba (Parkland) picked off a Cayden Stem (Wilson) pass and took it 18 yards for a score with 3:54 left in the third quarter.

Northern Lehigh’s Brett Misera picked off a Transue pass early in the fourth quarter for his second pick of the game. It set up the Red’s first offensive touchdown, a 6-yard run by Northern Lehigh’s Matt Frame that closed the deficit to 17-14 with over seven minutes left in the game.

Three plays into the Gold’s next possession Medlar picked off Stem and took it back 34 yard for a touchdown and the lead.

“There was good pass rush,” Medlar said of the play. “I saw the back go away cross body. I figured the quarterback was running right and wouldn’t throw it to his left. I kind of just stuck to my zone. Somebody got a hit on [Stem] and the ball came my way. I was fortunate enough to catch it and run it back.”

The Gold responded with a quick strike as Transue hit Gillen (5 receptions, 211 yards, two TDs) for a 79-yard touchdown two plays after losing the lead.

While the Red players were disappointed with the final score, they recognize this game had a lot of winners.

“Ultimately it’s just an honor to be here and make relationships with people you didn’t think you were going to make relationships with.,” said Emmaus offensive lineman Nick Davidson. “Sports in the Lehigh Valley is awesome. It’s a great community. It was just an awesome night altogether.”

Players selected to the McDonald’s game get the opportunity to spend time with their counterparts from teams they’ve battled with for the past four years and sometimes back as far as their flag football days.

“A lot of friendships I never thought I would have had if I wasn’t selected for this game,” said Emmaus offensive lineman Dylan McHugh, who bonded with some players from rival Parkland while participating in the McDonald’s All-Star Game. “They’re our big-time rivals and I ended up getting along with a lot of them. They’re really good guys and you’d never think that on a Friday night when you’re hashing it out with them.”

The annual game benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“At the end of the day it’s a bigger cause,” said Medlar. “This game is doing so much for so many people and I can’t be more happy to be a part of it.”

Other Lehigh Valley Press area players who were selected to compete in the McDonald’s Classic include Lorenzo Felician (Freedom), Dan Macon (Freedom), Deante Crawford (Freedom), Ayden Kirby (Bethlehem Catholic), Ethan Schweitzer (Northampton), Juan Feliciano (Freedom), Stephen Hattala (Bethlehem Catholic), Taylor Wikert (Northwestern), Jaden Robinson (Emmaus), Adler Billig (Parkland), Ben Dunstan (Northwestern) and Gabe Toth (Catasauqua).

Photo by Don Herb Former Zephyr Saquon Barkley was on hand at the McDonald's All-Star Classic which took place last month.