West all-stars topple East squad on the strength of a fourth-quarter touchdown in a game filled with outstanding defensive performances
In a game that the defensive lines harassed ball carriers and quarterbacks all day, the difference was the West holding the East all-stars to just 37 yards rushing.
For the first time, active NFL assistant coaches led the teams; and it was clear that both head coaches hailed from the defensive side of the ball (West by Minnesota Defensive Coordinator George Edwards; East by Arizona Cardinals Defensive Line Coach Brentson Buckner).
The West defense was led by DE Deatrich Wise of Arkansas, who had seven tackles, one-and-a-half sacks and caused a fumble on one of the game’s more interesting plays. With just two minutes left in the game, Wise appeared to sack East QB Nick Mullins (Southern Mississippi) but the ball popped into the air, only to be caught by OT William Holden (Vanderbilt) who then rumbled several yards back toward the line of scrimmage carrying several defensive linemen with him.
Other West defensive performances of note include S Tedrick Thompson (Colorado) and LB Kevin Davis (Colorado State) each registering five tackles; LB Hardy Nickerson Jr. (Illinois) and DC Treston Decoud (Oregon State) both forced fumbles; DE Darius English (South Carolina) shared a sack (with Wise) and had a tackle for loss and a hurry.
The East had a trio of defensive linemen with sacks, including DT Joey Ivie (Florida), DE Karter Schult (Northern Iowa) and DE Trey Hendrickson (Florida Atlantic). DE Bryan Cox (Florida) weighed in with five tackles (including one TFL). Hendrickson also forced a fumble and had a quarterback hurry in an effort that earned him the E. Jack Spaulding Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Player. East DT DeAngelo Brown (Louisville) registered a game-high three tackles for loss.
Offensive leaders for the game were West QB Wes Lunt (Illinois) with 101 yards passing while going 11-for-14; East QB Cooper Rush threw for 94 yards in an 11-for-17 effort; West WR Karel Hamilton (Sanford) had 61 yards on a pair of receptions and East TE Colin Jeter racked up 36 yards on a pair of receptions. West RB Joseph Williams (Wisconsin) led all rushers with 48 yards on seven carries; West RBs Dare Ogunbowale (Wisconsin) and Eli McGuire (Louisiana Lafayette) each added 42 yards. McGuire scored the game’s only touchdown on an 18-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter (earning him the William H. Coffman Award for Most Outstanding Offensive Player).
Both teams scored field goals in the first half, with West kicker Austin Rehkow (Idaho) hitting a 27 yarder in the first quarter and East kicker Nick Weiler (North Carolina) tying the game on a 21-yard attempt in the second.
The game was played in front of a crowd of 22,198 inside Tropicana Field and was broadcast nationally on the NFL Network.
Pictured: West squad tight end Michael Roberts (Toledo, No. 82) makes a 16-yard gain on a reception as East linebacker Andrew King (Army, No. 11) closes in for the tackle in the first quarter.