By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
WHITTIER – The final score and the winner of the inaugural Catholic/Christian Literacy Classic all-star football game was immaterial.
It was really all about longtime St. Paul High School football Marijon Ancich, who after more than 40 years coached his final game.
But winning isn’t bad, either.
Juan Diego Temple returned a fumble 62 yards on the final play of the third quarter to tie the score and John McGrory kicked a 45-yard field goal with 2:23 left and Ancich went out a winner as the South rallied for a 19-16 victory Thursday night at Whittier College.
Bishop Amat’s Jalen Moore rushed for 24 yards to lead the South.
“Believe me, it’s emotional,” Ancich said before the game. “My mind is working on it. That’s life in the big city. You never know what’s around the next corner.
“Our banquet is Sunday, so it will basically be all over in one week. That’s where were at.
“All the people that have done something for me, that’s who I want to thank. It’s unbelievable the sacrifices they’ve made to make the program better for us. It was all done by people, kids, the administration was always fantastic.”
Temple got the South back in it with a 62-yard fumble return that tied it at 16 on the final play of the third quarter. The South then stopped the North on downs at the South 23.
Rene Medina followed with a 40-yard pass to St. Paul’s Tyler Carrillo to the North 27 to set up McGrory’s 45-yard field with just over two minutes to play.
The first break of the game went to the South when the ball was hiked over the head of punter Terrance Williams, who kicked it out of the end zone for a safety and 2-0 lead with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
The North countered with a 79-yard drive late in the quarter.
Williams had a 15-yard run to the North’ 49 before Sean Smith tossed a 17-yard pass to Joseph Hall to the South’ 34. The duo then connected on a 34-yard pass play to make it 7-2 with 10:13 left in the first half.
The South, which was held to 44 yards during the first two quarters, used its defense to get retake the lead. Willie Fletcher intercepted a Sean Smith pass on third and 6 from the North 25 and returned it 29 yards to the North 12.
Josh Ivery, from Notre Dame of Riverside, ran nine yards to the 3 before running in a touchdown from there for a 9-7 lead with 3:14 to play.
But the North, after a second interception by Fletcher stopped one drive inside the 20, used an 18-yard run by Williams to the South 34 to set up a field goal by Eddie Garcia of Serra.
Williams followed with a run to the 25 with seven seconds left in the half. Garcia’s 42-yard field goal with no time left was short. But the South was penalized for rushing the kicker, per game rules, putting the ball on the 12.
Garcia followed with a 29-yard field on an untimed down for a 10-9 lead at halftime.
Raymond Ford of Serra, who has committed to UCLA, made it 16-9 with a 77-yard punt return with 8:01 left in the third quarter.
The game featured eight players from St. Paul, including David Cabral and Carrillo, who combined for 62 yards receiving.
“That’s the positive about this whole thing,” Ancich said. “Plus, I got to meet a few new guys from Orange County, and we (played) against guys from the teams in our league. It’s great.”