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Local athletes help South rally to tie North in All-Star matchup
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Pitman High's Jorge Pena (#34) pursues the ball carrier in the second half of Saturday's Lions Club All-Star football game held at Tracy High. - photo by Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER

TRACY – Just like in 2013, Saturday’s 41st annual Lions Club All-Star Football Game at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium came down to a field-goal attempt on the last play. Unlike 2013, the defense was able to defend the attempt and the South did not get the win this time as the kick was blocked ending the game in a 21-21 tie, running the series record to 24-15-2 in favor of the North.

Until this year, field goals and conversion kicks could not be defended in this All-Star game. This year the rule was changed allowing defending field goals.

Central Valley quarterback Kendel Johnson paced the South offense and was named the game’s offensive MVP, leading all rushers with 80 yards rushing and racking up 132 yards passing, including two touchdown passes.

“We all had fun,” Johnson said. “Everybody got touches. It was just fun to be around, a pleasure to be coached by the guys that coached us.”

Turlock signal caller Sean Downs split quarterback duties with Johnson and led the South on a late-game drive for a chance to win. A would-be winning pass was on target with 22 seconds left but stellar defense broke up the play. Downs had 117 yards passing and 48 rushing with a touchdown pass.

“It was awesome playing with a bunch of guys that know what they are doing,” Downs said. “The best guys are in the 209 and it is awesome knowing that you have talent all around you.”

Turlock’s Jevan Hogan killed a North drive in the first half with an interception.

“I was scanning the field,” Hogan said. “I saw it in the air and I attacked it.”

Central Valley’s Ja’Quan Gardner churned out 65 yards on 14 carries.

Logan Wolfley, Justin Van Fleet, Jorge Pena, Aaron Lusher and Eric Bejeran from Pitman participated for the South.