by Randy Parks
The West team squandered a 12-point first quarter lead, but came back with two fourth quarter scores for a 33-23 win in the 61st East-West Shrine Foootball Game Saturday, Aug. 3, in Baker City.
The victory ties the series at 29-29-3.
Trailing 23-19 with less than six minutes to play, Dayton’s Forrest Garcia gave the West the momentum with a 49-yard punt return to the East 45.
On third down, Oakland’s Logan O’Hara connected with Devin Ceciliani for a 34-yard gain, and Garcia scored from eight yards out to put the West ahead. Ryan Comstock of Oakland kicked the extra-point, and the West led 26-23 with 4:27 to play.
The East started their next drive at their own 31, but never gained a yard, as North Valley’s Tristan Burke missed on four straight pass attempts.
On the first play from scrimmage after taking over on downs, Garcia zig-zagged his way downfield for a 31-yard score with 3:53 left on the clock. Comstock again added the extra-point for the final margin of victory.
The East brought their fans to their feet from the get-go, as Baker’s Dane Bachman returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for the score, and Brandon Williams of Cascade Christian added the extra-point to put the East up 7-0 with just 15 seconds gone in the game.
The West was undaunted, however, and on second down, Grant Schroeder of Santiam Christian found Ceciliani open, and he broke away from the defense for a 71-yard score.
The two-point conversion failed, leaving the East with a 7-6 lead.
After forcing the East to punt, the West took over at ther own 47-yard. Schroeder then led the team on a 10-play drive, capped off by a 10-yard TD pass to Zach Olson of Banks. The two-point conversion was stopped again, but the West had their first lead of the game at 12-7.
Once again the East went three-and-out, and the West took over at the East 49 after the punt. On first down, Schroeder hooked up with Ceciliani for a 49-yard score, and Comstock’s PAT kick put the West ahead 19-7.
Late in the half, the East took over at their own 27 and began driving down the field. On first-and-10 at the West 35, the East went to a razzle-dazzle play that had disaster written all over it, but somehow worked. Ontario’s Trampis Waite pitched to Williams, who escaped a tackle and flipped the ball to Bachman. In the arms of a defender, Bachman under-handed the ball back to Waite, who broke a tackle and heaved the ball downfield to Central’s Kelton Chapman at the 2.
Williams punched it into the end zone with just 22 seconds left in the half, the PAT was good, and the half ended with the West up 19-14.
The West’s opening drive of the second half was stopped when Heppner’s Aiden Wright picked off Schroeder’s pass in the end zone, giving the East a first-and-10 at their own 20.
Cascade’s Cody Crawford took over as quarterback for the East, and led them on an 80-yard drive, picking up the last 13 yards himself to give the East a 20-19 lead.
The East’s next possession ended with a 21-yard field goal by Williams, putting the East up 23-19 with 9:32 left in the game.
Neither team moved the ball on their next possession, setting up Garcia’s game-winning scores over the final minutes.
1 2 3 4 Final
West 19 0 0 14 33
East 7 7 6 3 23
East – Dane Bachman 99-yard kickoff return (Brandon Williams kick) 11:45
West – Devin Ceciliani 71-yard pass from Grant Schroeder (run failed) 11:26
West – Zach Olson 10-yard pass from Schroeder (run failed) 6:07
West – Ceciliani 49-yard pass from Schroeder (Ryan Comstock kick) 4:22
East – Williams 2-yard run (Williams kick) :22
East – Cody Crawford 13-yard run (kick wide left) 4:23
East – Williams 21-yard field goal 9:32
West – Forrest Garcia 8-yard run (Comstock kick) 4:27
West – Garcia 31-yard run (Comstock kick) 3:53