---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT -- Danville's Bret Berg gave all the credit after the District 4 North-South All-Star Game game to his quarterbacks.
"All I had to do was run under it to get it, really nothing on my part," the recent graduate said.
Still, Berg made it look all too easy as a receiver Friday night.
So trailing by four early in the fourth quarter, South quarterback Jordan Thiverege of Central Columbia looked down the right sideline, saw Berg just ahead of his defender and let it go.
Berg reeled in the 48-yard reception and trotted into the end zone with arms outstretched, giving the South the go-ahead score against the North in the 23rd annual exhibition at Rodney K. Morgans Stadium. From there, the South never looked back, scoring twice more in the fourth quarter en route to a 45-28 win over the North.
"They took the lead there, 28-24, but after that there really was no looking back," said Line Mountain's Cole Rickert, a South quarterback. "(Shamokin's Andrew Hasuga) had a big interception. We scored some touchdowns; Thiverege threw me a nice ball. Bret Berg played an amazing game, and we just put it all together in the fourth quarter and did it."
Berg played phenomenal for the South, earning MVP honors with a 177-yard performance on just three receptions, including two touchdowns.
Shamokin's Mike Yucha was named the South's Defensive Player of the Game by recording five tackles and five assists. Rickert was named the South's Offensive Player of the Game with 21 passing yards, 47 receiving yards and a touchdown and 7 yards rushing and a score.
The North's Offensive Player of the Game was Athens' Ray McDougan, who had a receiving touchdown and a kickoff return. The North's Defensive Player of the Game was Athens' Mike Estes.
The largest lead in a back-and-forth affair was 21-7 by the South until the North rallied with two touchdowns to tie before forging the 28-24 lead.
That's when Hasuga made a key interception with 7:30 to play in the fourth quarter, picking off the North squad.
The South then used just two plays to go 21 yards and scored when Thiverege hit Rickert with a 19-yard touchdown pass.
"The interception (was key). That was the biggest play of the game, I thought," South coach Jim Keiser of Danville said. "We got the lead back, they threw it over the middle and Andrew Hasuga made a great play on it and picked it off and we got the lead … that was a big part of the game."
A bench-clearing brawl after a kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter resulted in Thiverege and Danville's Cale Rice being ejected for the South.
The North started the game with a 25-yard strike from South Williamsport's Tyler House to McDougan with 5:12 left in the first quarter. The South immediately responded with an 81-yard kickoff return by Southern Columbia's Joey Kleman, the first of three straight scores for a 21-7 lead.
"We struggled a little bit in the beginning. They returned a kick there to make it 28-24, I believe, and really started putting it to us, but we fought back and it was amazing," Rickert said.
The South's best weapon was its quarterback trio of Thiverege, Rickert and Southern Columbia's Taylor Young, who combined for 266 yards through the air.
Young put the final nail in the coffin against the North when he took off up the middle on a second-and-9 from the South's 36 for a long touchdown to lead 45-28 with just 3:37 to play.
The North's offense sputtered early, starting the game with seven drives of its first eight ending with a punt followed by a drive ending with an interception.
North Penn's Sam Bohnert and McDougan led the North's offense with 40 receiving yards each. On the ground, South Williamsport's Brandon Stonge ran for 32 yards, while Williamsport's Devin Miller rushed for 35.
"It's really exciting because a lot of these teams up here play each other, but being from Line Mountain and playing in the Tri-Valley League, we don't get to see a lot of these guys," Rickert said. "When we get to play with them then, it's 'Oh, I've heard about you,' not 'Oh, I played against you.' You get to meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends."
"These kids are great and we had a lot of fun all week," Keiser said. "It's really awesome to get to know the kids from other schools that you play against every Friday night and see what great kids they are. They played together really well."