Fenwick’s Luke Connolly picks off two passes, North nips South in Shriners Football Classic

WALTHAM — In a night where both offenses made spectacular plays, it was the North defense that shined the brightest in Saturday night’s Shriners Football Classic.

Defensive back Luke Connolly of Bishop Fenwick made two interceptions, and tipped the ball that led to another, as the North held on for a 21-17 win in the 46th edition of this game at Bentley.

“I think our defense played really well,” North coach Brian Vaughan Sr. of Lynn Classical said. “Going in, the South had a lot of good players, a lot of players playing at the next level. We were a little undersized compared to what they had. Our whole mindset was to be a bend-but-don’t-break defense. I think that’s kind of what happened tonight. It worked out in our favor. Sometimes, you game plan like that, and it works out in your favor. Sometimes it doesn’t. Tonight, it did. We’re happy with that.”

The South led 14-7 at halftime, but the North came right back after Connolly made an interception and ran it back 45 yards to the South 15. On the next play, Brian Vaughan Jr. of Lynn Classical completed a touchdown pass to Peabody’s Eli Batista to tie the score.

King Philip’s Tommy McLeish (107 yards passing) drove the South down the field on the next drive, but the North defense stiffened and forced a 22-yard field goal from Bishop Feehan’s Brett McCaffery as the South grabbed a 17-14 lead.

The North had another answer, though, as running back Bryan Ferreira (82 yards rushing, two TD) of Woburn raced for a 43-yard touchdown to put the North up for good.

“The whole game, coach was telling me, ‘Stay inside, stay inside,’ ” Ferreira said. “I was bouncing out a little. My thought process was that to come slow, bounce a little outside and back inside. From there, I saw daylight, and I just did my thing in the open space.”

The defense held on from there. Billerica’s Cole Dillon and Bedford’s Dylan Lykins combined on a sack to stop a South drive in North territory.

Then, on the next South possession, the defense stuffed a run on fourth and 1 from the North 12.

Finally, Connolly fittingly picked off another pass on the last South drive to seal the victory.

“I think the last (interception was the biggest one) because it kind of ended the game,” Connolly said. “That was definitely my favorite one.”

The game started off hot for both offenses. North quarterback Drew Eason of Methuen completed a 51-yard bomb to Christian Febbo of Wilmington to put the ball in South territory. That set up Ferreira’s 1-yard touchdown run to give the North a 7-0 lead.

South answered on the ensuing possession. Milton quarterback Patrick Miller completed four passes for 69 yards and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Barnstable’s Tajardo France to tie it up.

South looked poised to score again, but North’s Ryan Pacini of Woburn made an interception in the end zone to end the threat.

But the South would not be denied for long. Hanover quarterback Ben Scalzi completed three straight passes to North Attleboro’s Chris Hanewich (six receptions for 155 yards), the third a 33-yard touchdown up the seam to give the South a 14-7 lead that stood up by halftime.

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