Seven local players tried to end their high school football careers as winners.
They couldn't even settle for a tie.
It appeared that for only the fourth time in the 55-year history of the Brea Lions Club Orange County North-South Prep All-Star Football Game that the game would end in a tie.
With 92 seconds left to play, the North changed all of that on Thursday night.
The North broke a tie to end a five-game losing streak to the South. Quarterback Scott Lloyd threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Neil Pauu, lifting the North to a 12-6 win in front of 5,500 fans at Orange Coast College.
The outcome wasn't what Corona del Mar's Luke Napolitano, Giovanni Gentosi and Charlie Griffin, Costa Mesa's Oronde Crenshaw and Quinton Bell, and Newport Harbor's Quest Truxton and Cory Stowell, all recent graduates, wanted.
The game saw limited scoring, only three touchdowns, one coming on defense. Four plays into the second half, the South lost Napolitano, one of its two quarterbacks. Napolitano, who completed three of five passes for 26 yards, exited favoring his right shoulder.
The South, leading 6-0, struggled offensively in the second half, recording only three first downs after Napolitano's injury. Kai Ross, the starting quarterback from Huntington Beach, tried to bring the South back after the North's go-ahead touchdown with 1:32 left.
Ross hooked up with Truxton, a wide receiver, twice on the South's final drive, which started on its 13. The first one moved the chains on a fourth-and-five call, with Truxton producing a seven-yard catch. Ross and Truxton then connected on a five-yard pass, his fourth catch that gave him 25 yards.
The next two times Ross threw the ball, his passes felt incomplete. The South turned the ball over on downs on its 30-yard line with 23 seconds to go.
Lloyd, the OC All-Star Game Offensive MVP, kneeled to run out the clock. Lloyd, from Fullerton, completed four of seven passes for 61 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for a one-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to tie the game at 6-6.
The opening quarter featured two fumbles, one 10 yards short of the end zone and the other a couple of yards into the end zone. The South came up with the fumble resulting in a touchdown.
A play after sacking North quarterback Dylan Osborne on North's 15-yard line, lineman Jack Bares beat Osborne to his own snap. Helping Bares, from Tesoro, is that the center hiked the ball over Osborne's head. The ball bounced into the end zone, where Bares, the OC All-Star Game Defensive MVP, pounced on it to give the South a 6-0 lead with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
The lead stood up in the first half, as the South defense shut out the North. Crenshaw, playing linebacker, made two tackles, Stowell, a defensive back, defended a pass, and Griffin, a safety, forced a receiver out of bounds and he made a nice tackle in the open field.
The South appeared on its way to building on its lead in the second quarter. At the start of the quarter, Napolitano and Crenshaw saw action for the first time on offense. Early on in the drive, they both looked good.
Crenshaw rushed a handful of times during the drive. His best run was a nine-yard gain to the left in which he sidestepped defenders for a first down. He finished with nine carries for 31 yards.
Napolitano hit Truxton on a seven-yard pass, and then Bell for nine yards, good for a first down. With the South inside the North's 30-yard line, Crenshaw ran twice for only two yards. Faced with a third-and-eight, Napolitano let one go. The ball hung a little too much in the air, and Fullerton defensive back Deryck Fletcher intercepted the ball at the one, returning it 29 yards before Gentosi, a center, brought him down.
The turnover marked the South's second in North territory in the first half. The North's inability to capitalize proved to be the story, until the third quarter.
The North managed to even the score midway through the third quarter. Matthew Hall, from Fullerton, blocked a punt, leaving the North on the South's 44. Six plays later, Lloyd punched it in on a quarterback sneak inches from the end zone.
A false start before the extra-point attempt moved the North five yards back. The PAT was now a 25-yard attempt, and Derek Bush never had a chance to kick the ball. Another bad snap by the North forced Bush, from Whittier Christian, to run with the ball and JSerra's Hunter Braun stopped him before he could do much.
The South failed to muster much on offense, and if it weren't for Bares' defensive touchdown, it would've been shutout for the first time in 31 years.