In the first of what hopes to be many more, the South defeated the North in the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium on Thursday night.
Bowling Green commit Matt Johnson threw three touchdown passes for the North, which included a 45-yarder to Penn Hills standout Terrell Roberson, a nine-yarder to Clairton's Desimon Green and a 25-yarder to Red Bank Catholic (NJ) tight end Jack Tabb.
The North led 21-14 at the half, but was unable to hold on to the lead, thanks to a strong second-half performance from Zach Dancel. Dancel connected with Penn State commit Matt Zanellato on a 28-yard touchdown pass, putting the South up 23-21 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Dancel clinched the game for the South with a 52-yard touchdown run with 4:03 left in the game. Johnson answered for the North with his 25-yard touchdown pass to Tabb. The North tried to get the ball back one last time on the onside kick, but the ball bounced out of bounds.
Despite the loss, players from the North team like Quinton Alston enjoyed the overall experience.
"The talent on both sides of the ball; everybody can do what you can do," Alston said. "It's like you have to actually use your smarts out here, use your experience to your advantage. You're not stronger than everybody, you're not faster than everybody. You have to be smart.
"It was a great precursor for college. It was a great opportunity to come out and play some of these top guys."
Alston, who started at WILL linebacker for the North, finished with five tackles in the game, including a big fourth-down stop in the first half on Cincinnati commit Malcolm Crockett. On a fourth-and-short, Crockett took the direct snap out of the ‘Wildcat' formation, but was stopped short thanks to Alston's hit.
In addition to Alston, Artie Rowell made the start at center on offense. Lafayette Pitts saw time at corner, safety and for a series at running back. Pitts finished with two tackles and a pass deflected, with another 10 yards on a kickoff return.
The defensive linemen with ties to Pitt's recruiting came through with big games. Marquise Wright finished the game with two sacks, two tackles and another quarterback hurry. Wright, with defensive end Max Issaka lined up next to him, created headaches for the South team. Both players drew double-teams multiple times. Issaka finished with three tackles, another tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry. Woodland Hills defensive end Quinton Jefferson added two tackles and a sack.
The biggest surprise may have been Desimon Green, who lined up at receiver and was the go-to guy for both Gary Nova and Johnson when they were in the game at quarterback. Green led the North with four receptions for 45 yards including a nine-yard touchdown reception. On his touchdown catch, Green reached out for the ball, tipped it once, then caught the ball as he fell on top of his defender.
Earlier in the drive, Green kept the drive alive with a heads up play. After a pass intended for Green was intercepted over the middle, Green reached out to make the tackle. He ended up forcing a fumble in the process. Green recovered the fumble, then ran the ball all the way to the South nine yard-line, which led to his touchdown catch. Green's performance definitely gave schools recruiting him, the thought of what he could do on offense as a receiver or tight end.
The North also had a 11-yard touchdown run from Maika Polamalu; the opening score of the game, in addition to Johnson's three touchdown passes. Former Pitt commit Kyshoen Jarrett picked off a pass in his own end zone, preserving a 21-7 lead for the North in the first half.