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Long field goal lifts North
Team scores 21 points in 1st half but needs 45-yard kick for victory
By David Kiefer
Granted, rushing the kicker wasn't allowed in the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star Football Game, but Kevin Blakley's winning kick was impressive nonetheless.
The Westmont graduate booted a tiebreaking 45-yard field goal with 8:59 left to give the North a 24-21 victory in the 33rd annual contest Wednesday at Spartan Stadium.
Blakley, who is blind in his left eye, said his impaired vision hasn't affected his kicking. "It's more when I'm playing receiver," he said.
The winning kick wasn't Blakley's longest. He has kicked a 51-yarder, though that was using a one-inch tee. This was from the grass. For Blakley, under the circumstances in a high-profile game, there was nothing better.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "This is something I'll never forget."
Still, the victory was not ensured until Vince Pereira (Santa Clara) recovered a fumble at his 28-yard line to stifle a South threat, and Nick Goodspeed (Palo Alto) found Justice Patterson (Wilcox) for 10 yards on a fourth-and-four play with 2:49 left.
The pass was disputed. The South believed the low pass hit the ground. After the officials conferred, the North was awarded a first down and ran out the clock.
The back-and-forth contest featured three lead changes and a tie. The tie came about when South quarterback Danny Cruz (Piedmont Hills) threw a touchdown pass to Kevin Gonzales (Bellarmine College Prep), then connected with Anthony Schmidt (Valley Christian) on the two-point conversion to make it 21-21 late in the third quarter.
The North alternated quarterbacks each possession, and when it came to Goodspeed's turn, the pace immediately picked up.
He completed all three passes in his first series, totaling 57 yards and finishing with a 12-yard fade to Dave Martini (Los Gatos) in the right corner of the end zone.
The North dominated the first quarter, leading the South in yards (149-15) and first downs (9-1). Still, the South led 13-7.
After Martini's score, Gonzales picked up a short kickoff and broke across the field for an 84-yard touchdown return.
Moments later, a turnover set up the South's 16-yard scoring drive. Marcos Garces (Willow Glen) scored on a short burst for a 13-7 South lead.
But the North stormed back by forcing turnovers on consecutive possessions that led directly to touchdowns in the final five minutes of the first half.
Kevin Vye (Oak Grove) had ignited the South offense with his ability to escape the rush and find open receivers, but a promising drive was stifled when he was pressured and looked to his left for a receiver running a hot route. Tyler Dimich (Milpitas) stepped in front of the throw and ran 60 yards for the go-ahead score.
Another turnover again set up the North. Goodspeed rolled left and found Kendall Hendon (Prospect) on a streak for a 40-yard score for a 21-13 lead with 1:46 left in the half.
Goodspeed completed 7 of 12 for 128 yards and two scores. He is headed to Choate Rosemary Hall, a postgraduate school in Connecticut where he can play for one season and still have four years of college eligibility.
The Wedemeyer game had added significance for Vye. He was playing on the same field where his brother, Brian, played as San Jose State's quarterback in 1997-98.
Vye, who is headed for City College of San Francisco, completed 7 of 10 passes for 94 yards, but the South committed three turnovers on his watch.
Check out David Kiefer's After School blog at www.mercextra.com/blogs/hssports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org