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Gold Holds On to Win 53rd Annual McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic

Written by: on Friday, June 14th, 2024. Follow Matt Hagy on Twitter.


NAZARETH – After multiple twists and turns which included a wild and long fourth quarter, it was déjà vu all over again in The 53rd McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic. For the second straight year the Gold Squad defeated the Red Squad 21-20 on a warm Thursday night at Nazareth’s Andrew S. Leh Stadium.

The McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic is made up of senior football players from Northampton County, Phillipsburg and Palisades (Gold Team) and from Lehigh, Carbon and Monroe counties (Red Team). All proceeds from this event benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“The most important thing that I take away from this is the amount of talent that there is in the Lehigh Valley,” Gold Squad and Penn Argyl Head Coach Brady Mutton said. “You know its there from the years coaching but then when you get them all together it is incredible. It is a pleasure to coach these kids and you do not have to do much with them because they know how to play football. We just have to make sure they are doing their job and tonight they did that.”

Much like last year’s contest, it was the Gold Squad that got off to a hot start. The Red Squad went three and out to open the game and Mutton’s own quarterback at Penn Argyl, Bradley Rissmiller, got the scoring started by finding Northampton’s Tristin Pinnock open over the middle for a 34-yard touchdown pass on third down and eight. It set the tone for a big half for Rissmiller, who is set to play baseball next year at Northampton Community College.

“Our receivers were running great routes and were getting open in the first half,” Rissmiller said. “The line was doing an incredible job blocking too to give not just myself but all three quarterbacks we used tonight time to set and throw.”

The Red Squad countered on their ensuing drive when Executive Charter’s Kristopher Cruz found a familiar target of his in fellow Raptor teammate Damon Young for a 20-yard touchdown pass, also coming on third and eight, to level things at seven late in the first quarter.

It was Notre Dame’s Danny Darno’s turn under center on the next Gold Squad drive and he put his team back in front on the first play of the second quarter by hitting Easton’s Jordan Alston in stride for a 47-yard touchdown. It seemed the Gold Squad was about to start running away with things when Rissmiller found Notre Dame’s Josh Ludlow for another deep strike, this time from 44 yards, for his second touchdown pass of the day that made it 21-7 with 7:13 left in the second quarter.

The Red Squad took the opening drive of the second half down to the Gold Squad 25 yard line before being stuffed on 4th and 1 but got the ball back immediately when Rissmiller fumbled on a draw one play later. Northwestern Lehigh’s Dalton Clymer punched it in from two yards out to make it 21-14 with 4:21 left in the third quarter.

The Gold Squad kept leaving a door open for the Red Squad after coming away empty-handed on its next drive despite making it all the way to the Red two yard line. A botched snap sent them back 21 yards before a 38-yard field goal attempt clanked off the left crossbar. Parkland’s Luke Spang drove the Red Squad down the field and capped off a drive that featured four gold squad penalties with a seven-yard scamper that made it 21-20.

In the exact same spot from a year ago that 2023 Red Squad Head Coach Jim McCarroll was, Pleasant Valley Head Coach Blaec Saeger went for two and the lead. The players were different, but the result was the same as Dieruff’s Mekhi Ashby was stopped at the one-yard line by Saucon Valley’s Landon Beckowski that ended up being difference in the game.

The Red Squad got the ball back with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter but were unable to get past midfield.

“When the game gets chaotic and chippy like it did at the end it was just important we stayed focused,” Mutton said. “I told them do not get in the mess and close this game out.”

The Red Squad held a 267-222 advantage in total yards behind a balanced offensive attack. Rissmiller finished with a game-high 92 yards on 5-of-8 passing and two touchdown passes. Ludlow led all receivers with 80 yards on four catches with one being a touchdown reception.

“It is an amazing experience and honestly surreal to think about playing with all of these talented guys that you are used to competing against in the Fall,” Rissmiller said. “You watch these guys, and it is a great way to build friendships and a brotherhood. Football brings a lot of people together.”

Scoring Summary:

1 Gold Pinnock, 34 pass from Rissmiller (McLaughlin kick) 6:17
1 Red Young, 20 pass from Cruz (Cerco kick) 1:26
2 Gold Alston, 47 pass from Darno (McLaughlin kick) 11:53
2 Gold Ludlow, 44 pass from Rissmiller, (McLaughlin kick) 7:13
3 Red Clymer, 2 run (Cerco kick) 4:21
4 Red Spang, 7 run (run failed) 7:10

Team Statistics:

Red Gold
First downs 21 13
Rushes-yards 30-94 25-28
Passing yards 173 194
Total yards 267 222
Passes COMP-ATT-INT 17-35-1 8-16-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Punts-average 4-46.5 3-42.7
Penalties-yards 6-85 9-102

Individual statistics


Red: Ashby 7-37, Clymer 8-16, Ecker 3-14, Cruz 2-11, Bray 4-9, Spang 6-7

Gold: Bendekovits 5-27, Darno 6-20, Rissmiller 3-7, Richardson 1-3, Vermuelen 1-2, Pierre 2-(-1), Sutton 4-(-6), TEAM 3-(-24)


Red: Bray 6-17-0-51, Cruz 6-9-0–77, Spang 5-8-1-45, Clymer 0-1-0-0

Gold: Rissmiller 5-8-0-92, Darno 3-7-0-102, Vermuelen 0-1-0


Red: Juica 3-34, Allen 3-33, Robles 3-24, Ashby 2-19, Mecca 2-18, Young 1-20, King 1-13, Thomas 1-12

Gold: Ludlow 4-80, Pinnock 3-67, Alston 1-47


Gold: Hilarczyk

Red Squad 7 0 7 6 20
Gold Squad 7 14 0 0 21

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