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Shrine All-Star Football Game : North Isn’t Smiling as South Gets Last Laugh, 23-7

Times Staff Writer

Wherever Carson quarterback Perry Klein traveled during his high school career, controversy followed.

That image remained intact at the end of the South’s 23-7 victory over the North in the 38th annual Shrine All-Star football game before about 15,000 fans at the Rose Bowl Saturday night.

The 6-foot-3, California-bound Klein, who made the most of Southern California’s transfering rules by switching schools four times during his four-year high school career, orchestrated a trick 88-yard touchdown pass to Hawthorne’s Curtis Conway on the game’s last play.

After an interception by the South’s Sean Burwell of Reseda Cleveland on the South’s 12-yard line, Klein fooled the crowd, his opponents and even some of his teammates with one second remaining.

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With his team lined up in a tight, run-out-the-clock formation, Klein took the snap from center, pretended to put his knee to the turf and then lofted a pass to a streaking Conway, the State’s 100-meter champion, for a touchdown.

The play took South Co-Coach Bill Redell by surprise and angered the North team, including Co-Coach Bob Ladouceur of Concord De La Salle.

“I feel very badly about that play,” Redell said. “I told Perry that he could put it up, but I did not expect him to do that type of play.”

After watching two of his players, linemen Jim Jones and Mike Allio, chase Klein into the protection of the officials, Ladouceur stormed off the field.

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“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, waving his right hand in disgust as he passed game officials.

The game showcased the South’s Proposition 48 backfield of Conway, Derek Brown of Anaheim Servite and Russell White of Encino Crespi, all of whom failed to meet minimum academic requirements for college eligibility.

Conway, who signed a letter-of-intent with USC but was not accepted, started at quarterback. He completed only 1 of 3 passes for 6 yards and was sacked three times for a loss of 40 yards, but he gained 69 yards on seven carries and caught two passes for 110 yards.

Conway said he did not mind playing different positions on offense and that the North team deserved the last-play trickery.

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“They really talked a lot of mess during the game,” he said. “It all started at the Angel game Thursday night when they began harassing us as we were leaving. They started it all.”

Brown, ineligible to play at Nebraska this fall, gained 98 yards on 13 carries, including a 48-yard burst on the South’s first offensive play of the game. Brown scored two touchdowns.

“I was very surprised to break one like that on the game’s first play,” Brown said. “I just broke against the flow of their defense.”

Brown said he did not know about the play Klein and Conway planned until the ball was in the air. “To tell you the truth, I did not know they were going to do that,” he said, “but I do not feel bad because they (the North) did a lot of talking out there.”

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White, the State’s all-time rushing and scoring leader, played despite an injured right knee and gained 34 yards on seven carries.

The South defense, meanwhile, gave up only 50 yards on 24 attempts. Washington-bound Tommie Smith of Antelope Valley, who finished with 10 tackles from his strong safety position, was elected the game’s most valuable player.

“It is a dream come true for me to be named MVP,” Smith said. “I have been looking toward this game since my sophomore year.”

The North’s touchdown came on a seven-yard run by quarterback Billy Owens early in the fourth quarter. Washington-bound Jamal Fountain led the North’s defense with six tackles, including three quarterback sacks.

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