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*** 31st All-Star Game ***

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Wedemeyer goes South at the end

Published Thursday, July 21, 2005, in the San Francisco Chronicle
By Mitch Stephens

As if another Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star football game could get any tighter. This one came down to a jump ball.

Terrence Critchlow (Piedmont Hills graduate) pulled down a desperation 36-yard option pass from halfback Marlon Rosales (Santa Teresa), setting up the game-winning touchdown in the South's 18-16 victory over the North Wednesday at San Jose City College.

This was the 31st game pitting some of the top just-graduated high school players from Santa Clara County.

Facing 4th-and-12 from the South 42, Rosales hauled in a short screen from T.J. DeStefano (Branham) behind the line of scrimmage, then fired a wobbler that Critchlow was able to snag between three North defenders at the South 8.

After three short runs, Steven Pinon (Piedmont Hills) powered in from the 1 on fourth down, giving the South an 18-16 lead with 2 minutes, 12 seconds remaining.

Dytanion Eley intercepted a pass in the final seconds, giving the South its fourth straight win in the series, all decided by five points or less. The South owns a 17-12-2 series lead.

"We ran the (option pass) a couple times in practice and in that situation we were just thinking 'what the heck,' " said South coach Mark Krail (Pioneer). "We just pulled that one out of our back pockets. Luckily, we had the right guy go up and get it."

It was the only catch of the game for the 6-foot, 200-pound Critchlow, who also was a basketball player for Piedmont Hills.

"It's tough to lose this way," said St. Francis linebacker Mike Morales, the defensive star of the game who recovered two fumbles, returning one 56 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter to give the North its first lead, 9-6. "We had the play absolutely covered. It was kind of flukey, but give the guy credit for bringing it down."

The North looked in command when Ekahi Casino (St. Francis) returned a punt 78 yards, making it 16-6 late in the third quarter. Casino was sprung by a big block from Morales, his high school teammate.

But the South fought back, behind the running of fast and elusive Burton Iosefa (Oak Grove), who rushed for 86 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns.

He capped a 69-yard drive early in the fourth quarter with a tough 4-yard TD run around left end, cutting the lead to 16-12. Iosefa, who gained 2,069 yards and scored 23 touchdowns last season, was the best offensive player on the field.

Despite controlling much of the first half, North trailed 6-3 thanks to a long kickoff return by Dytanion Eley (Gunderson) and a 20-yard touchdown run by Iosefa.

The North took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards on 14 plays, capped with a 28 yard field goal by Joe Ciesinski (Mitty). Chris Morris, a 5-10, 210- pound running back from Homestead, did most of the damage on the drive with five carries for 25 yards.

Eley took the ensuing kickoff and zig-zagged down the field 69 yards to the 20 and on the next play, Iosefa sprinted around the left side for a touchdown.

E-mail Mitch Stephens at mstephens@sfchronicle.com.