WOODLAND HILLS — In a game expected to feature skill and talent, trickery won out as the Southern Section beat the City Section, 18-15, in the Valley Classic all-star football game before 5,500 Sunday night at Pierce College.
With the City leading, 15-6, with 7:33 left in the fourth quarter, Royal High tight end Ryan Nielsen ran 54 yards untouched for a touchdown on a fumblerooski, catching the City defense off guard on the deception play.
Nielsen's run cut the Southern Section's deficit to 15-12, after a bad snap spoiled the extra-point attempt.
On its next possession, the City stalled at the Southern Section 33-yard line after Kennedy's Calvin Zinck threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-one with 3:30 to play.
Casey Preston, who completed eight of 16 passes for 116 yards, then found Westlake teammate Jonathon Weems on a 40-yard scoring pass play to put the Southern Section ahead to stay with 1:43 left.
Weems, who had three receptions for 67 yards, started the winning drive with a 25-yard catch. On Weems' touchdown, Preston faked a pass to St. Bonaventure wide receiver Pepe Villasenor, who was streaking up the sideline. That was enough to pull Kennedy safety Waking Bailey away from Weems, who was running a post pattern.
"With our speed, we shouldn't have been running a zone defense," said Bailey, who had one of three interceptions for the City. "[Preston] just busted the zone. But that's not the play that killed us. It was the fumblerooski."
Nielsen's run demoralized the City after it was victimized by Simi Valley lineman Joe Sarcinella on a 58-yard fumblerooski run on the game's first play.
"We ran it once or twice a day in practice, but it was just to [Sarcinella]," said Nielsen, who has 4.75-second speed in the 40-yard dash and is headed to USC on scholarship. "But [Coach Bill Redell] came up to me at halftime and asked what my 40 time was. I told him and he said, 'Get ready.' "
After a scoreless first quarter, the City took a 7-0 lead when San Pedro's Travis White recovered a fumble by Burroughs quarterback J.K. Scott in the end zone.
The Southern Section made it 7-6 when Agoura's Jason Gordon scored on a 46-yard run. Gordon gained 77 yards in 11 carries.
The City made it 15-6 after an interception and 62-yard return by Bailey set up a seven-yard touchdown run by North Hollywood's Dante Clay with 44 seconds left in the first half. Taft's Nick DiPadova threw to Sylmar's Jose Ochoa for a two-point conversion.