Big-play South takes down North in 72nd Schwab Bowl, 33-28
The North made its share of big plays on both sides of the ball during Friday night's 72nd Les Schwab Bowl All-Star Football Game.
The South made more.
Eagle Point's Noah Page caught touchdown passes of 34, 50, and 72 yards — all in the first quarter — leading the South to a 33-28 victory in the annual prep football showcase, featuring the state's top graduating 6A and 5A seniors at Hillsboro Stadium.
Mountain View's Forrest Love added a 59-yard touchdown reception for Wilsonville's Nate Overholt with 2:44 to play in the third quarter as the South won for the fourth time in five seasons and evened the all-time series at 34-34-4.
The South finished with 444 yards total offense and a big chunk of that (317 yards) came on seven plays — three that covered between 25-34 yards each, and four that covered 50 or more yards each.
After Lake Oswego's Jackson Laurent threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Reynolds' Kehdon Fletcher on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the South's lead to 33-28, the North had the ball four more times with an opportunity to drive for a go-ahead score, but never crossed midfield.
"It's never fun to lose, but take that out and it was a fantastic week and one of the best groups I've ever worked with," North coach Joe Bushman of Clackamas said. "The kids did everything we asked them to do, they practiced hard, and there we so tight-knit after only one week, it was really cool to watch.
"We just gave up to many big plays on defense, so that was pretty frustrating. And then offensively, it seemed like we had a lot of opportunities, but we weren't as sharp in the passing game as we needed to be."
Seven players with ties to local schools were on the North roster. Oregon City's Isaiah Cook and Brock Duyck, and Clackamas' Brian Espinoza helped anchor the offensive line. La Salle Prep's Ethan Edgerly saw action at wide receiver, Clackamas' Jake Bushman started at middle linebacker, Milwaukie's Kaiden Durheim played defensive tackle and special teams, and Clackamas' Jeff Nelson did all the kicking and punting.
"Honestly, it was a blast," said Cook, the Central Washington-bound lineman. "At first, I was a little unsure about not really knowing too many people, but now I feel like I've known these guys my entire life.
"I couldn't be happier that I got to play in this game. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Duyck, the Southern Oregon University prospect, echoed his teammate's comments.
"It was a really fun experience," Duyck said. "I was really hoping to get that win, but I had a great week, meeting all these guys and playing with everybody. It was a lot of fun."
North quarterbacks Jackson Laurent of Lake Oswego and Brad Norman of Liberty completed a combined 22 of 40 passes for 256 yards, throwing to nine different receivers.
Southridge's Keyvaun Eady had a team-high four receptions for 28 yards and one touchdown, Fletcher from Reynolds caught three passes for 29 yards and two scores, and Edgerly added three receptions for 46 yards.
"I had a lot of fun," said Edgerly, who recently committed to Lewis & Clark College. "I'm not going to lie, the first few days of practice were a little rough, I was so out of shape. But it got fun. The guys were really cool, we had a good time, and the game was really fun."
With six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Laurent threw deep for Edgerly, but Wilsonville's Cade Edmonson got a hand up at the last instant to break up the pass.
"That would have been a touchdown," Edgerly said. "It was just bad luck for me and good defense by him — a one-in-a-million shot that went the South's way."
In addition to playing defense, Jake Bushman saw spot duty as a fullback in short-yardage situations on offense, but had his night cut short when he took a knee to the back while trying to block on a running play early in the second half.
"It was a bad bruise and I tried my best to play through it, but it didn't work," Bushman said. "It was an unfortunate deal that happened to me, but what a fun week and I don't think this injury is going to take away from what happened in this game."
Durheim, Milwaukie's 6-foot-1, 225-pound defensive lineman, was credited with one assisted tackle, but also made a key play that wasn't reflected in the game summary — a jarring block that helped spring Grant's Marcus Harris on a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown that made it 26-22 with 10:05 left in the third quarter.
"(Special teams) is as close as I come to playing offense, which is pretty fun because you just get to knock people straight on their backs," Durheim said. "On that play, I was thinking, 'Big block, big block, big block,' just waiting for the perfect moment when I could light someone up and I connected really well.
"I'd say I was at a little bit of disadvantage moving from defensive end to defensive tackle. I was a little bit 'size-challenged,' working against double teams with guys who were 50 pounds heavier than me, but I tried to hold my own and I had a good time."
In the kicking department, Nelson converted a pair of extra points and punted five times, averaging 36.6 yards per punts with a long of 48 yards. He also completed a two-point conversion pass to Eady of Southridge to make it 13-8 with 2:32 to play in the first quarter, but also missed a 38-yard field goal into the wind with the North trailing 26-22 and 3:05 to play in the third quarter.
"That's a kick I can usually make," said Nelson, who signed as a preferred walk-on to Oregon State. "Honestly, the kick was on me. I just pushed it right and missed it.
"I had a lot of fun and made a tone of new friends. It was a good time and a good experience. The game didn't go our way, but I don't think it really mattered when there were a ton of good friendships to take away from it. That's what really matters."
NORTH 8 7 7 6 — 28
SOUTH 20 0 13 0 — 33
SOUTH — Noah Page 34 pass from Nate Overholt (Ozzy Ramirez kick)
SOUTH — Page 72 pass from DeMontre Thomas (run failed)
NORTH — Keyvaun Eady 13 pass from Brad Norman (Eady pass from Jeff Nelson)
SOUTH — Page 50 pass from Thomas (Ramirez)
NORTH — Kehdon Fletcher 6 pass from Jackson Laurent (Nelson kick)
SOUTH — Connor McNabb 1 run (run failed)
NORTH — Marcus Harris 90 punt return (Nelson kick)
SOUTH — Forrest Love 59 pass from Overholt (Ramirez kick)
NORTH — Fletcher 4 pass from Laurent (run failed)