LINCOLN — Its defense got an early touchdown Saturday and its offense was the first to click.
With that combination, the South upset the North 34-18 in the 54th Shrine Bowl at Memorial Stadium.
Ralston’s Brad Simpson, named the defensive player of the game, returned a tipped pass 21 yards for a score on the game’s third play. The South’s 10-point finish to the first half, on a pair of hurry-up drives, left the North playing catch-up.
“I’m glad we put in a two-minute offense,’’ said winning head coach Leigh Schmale of Elmwood-Murdock. “I thought it set the tone for the second half, too, because we got them on their heels.”
North Dakota State recruit Derek McGinnis of Crete, who threw for 158 yards by completing 11 of 14 passes, gave the South a 24-3 lead with a 31-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to Brandon Reilly of Lincoln Southwest.
“I had gotten tackled at the 3 earlier on,” Reilly said. “I couldn’t let that happen again.”
Reilly, one of 13 Nebraska walk-ons in the game, caught six passes for 118 yards to be named the offensive player of the game.
Simpson, also an NU walk-on, sacked North quarterback Ryker Fyfe of Grand Island as the North opened the game with a gadget play. Two plays later, he intercepted a Fyfe pass tipped by Lincoln Southeast lineman Trey Foster.
The North made it 7-3 on a 39-yard field goal by Norfolk Catholic’s Drew Farlee before the South took a snap.
“The interception took a lot of pressure off the offense,’’ Schmale said.
Neither team did much on offense until the South’s Hunter Oliver of Beatrice recovered a fumbled punt at the North 41 — with 4:34 left in the first half. It was the second turnover by the North on a muffed punt.
“Special teams played a big role,’’ said the North’s Terry Grigsby, from Omaha North. “They got the ball twice on our side of the field because of our mistakes.”
McGinnis completed four consecutive passes, the first three to Reilly, to move the ball to the 1. Iowa recruit Drew Ott of Giltner lined up at quarterback and bulled his way across the goal line to put the South up 14-3.
Papillion-La Vista South’s Tyler Basch made it 17-3 by ending the half with a 39-yard field goal.
South ......... 7 10 7 10—34
North .......... 3 0 7 8—18
South: Brad Simpson 21 interception return (Tyler Basch kick)
North: FG Drew Farlee 39
South: Drew Ott 1 run (Basch kick)
South: FG Basch 39
South: Brandon Reilly 32 pass from Derek McGinnis (Basch kick)
North: Sam Foltz 34 pass from Ryker Fyfe (Farlee kick)
South: Kyle Cuddeford 2 run (Basch kick)
North: Terry Grigsby 17 pass from Ryker Fyfe (Graham Nabity run )