Tropicana Field hosted the 94th East-West Shrine Game on Saturday and after a week of practice, the players finally got to flash their skills in a game setting. The West pulled out the 21-17 victory but both teams showcased their talent all game.
The West squad began with the ball and Brett Rypien out of Boise St. led a great opening drive to start the game.
After a quick pass from Rypien, LSU running back Nick Brossette hit a hole up the middle for a gain of 11 yards. Rypien then hit Utah State’s Ron’quavion Tarver for back-to-back 16-yard gains and completed the drive with a 22-yard dime to Brossette on a wheel route out of the backfield for six.
When the East came out for their first drive their run game was leaned on heavily, and the drive was dominated by running back Ty Johnson. Johnson – out of Maryland – had touches on three of the drive’s seven plays, taking carries for 18 and 13 yards while adding a catch out of the backfield for 10. Unfortunately for the West, a botched snap put them in a hole that they couldn’t recover from and pressure on fourth-and-1 forced an incomplete pass from Purdue quarterback David Blough.
The teams would exchange punts for the remainder of the first quarter and into the second before the West had an impact turnover.
Backed up at their own seven yard line East quarterback Jordan Ta’amu found Georgia receiver Terry Godwin II for a big gain down the right sideline but Northwestern defensive back Montre Hartage forced the fumble. The loose ball was scooped up by Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel and returned 31 yards to the East’s two yard line.
It would take the West just one play to score as practice standout Devine Ozigbo from Nebraska took the 2-yard carry for six.
For the rest of the half it was all front seven play standing out for the West as Markus Jones (Angelo State), Justin Hollins (Oregon) and Daniel Wise (Kansas) all got in on multiple sacks and the West was able to take a 14-0 lead into the half.
The second half started as slow as the first half finished from an offensive standpoint, with both teams exchanging three-and-outs, but on the East’s second drive of the half McNeese State linebacker BJ Blunt picked off Oklahoma State’s Taylor Cornelius with a wild diving interception.
Much like the West’s first forced turnover, they were able to cash it in for points immediately. On the next play NDSU’s Easton Stick found Arizona receiver Shawn Poindexter for the 22-yard score.
On the very next drive Cornelius was picked off again, this time looking for Jamal Custis (Syracuse) when Tampa native Mazzi Wilkins (USF) jumped the route and returned the interception 31 yards to the East’s 35-yard line.
Four plays later the West would turn it over on downs.
Blough reentered the game for the East and finally led the team back down the field, with a highlight throw and catch to Princeton’s Jesper Horsted for 35 yards and a tight-window completion to Custis before finding Godwin for the 6-yard passing touchdown.
The West would again go three-and-out and allow Blough to come alive again.
A defensive pass interference call pushed the East down the field, but Blough completed two passes for nine and 10 yards and finished the drive finding Godwin for an 18-yard touchdown again, the duo’s second consecutive drive connecting for a touchdown.
On the ensuing drive Rypien looked good, moving the West down the field with passes to three different receivers. Once reaching the red zone, though, Rypien fumbled the handoff and Kentucky’s Derrick Baity Jr. recovered the fumble for the East. Just like that St. Pete had a ballgame.
Ta’amu reentered the game for the East.
Moving down the field on third-and-4 from around midfield Ta’amu went deep down the right sideline to, who else, Godwin again.
An immediate holding penalty pushed the East back to a first-and-20 from the 36-yard line and Ta’amu hit Custis for a 15-yard gain, leaving them just outside of the redzone, but the West was able to respond and get after Ta’amu for two consecutive sacks. They would settle for a field goal and cut the deficit to 21-17.
The West took over and – behind a game-high, 39-yard run from Pitt’s Darrin Hall – run the clock out.
Shrine Game MVP’s Offense: WR Terry Godwin II, Georgia Defense: LB Justin Hollins, Oregon