After the first few big time offensive plays, both defensive units seemed to settle in for what turned out to be a low scoring struggle in St Pete for the East-West Shrine game. The West started strong early on with a pair of lengthy drives which included one of the most impressive plays of the game. Tampa product Karel Hamilton made a big-time catch down the sideline, but the East defense held strong keeping the West out of the endzone as defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown blew up the middle of the line and dropped the runner for a loss. After a few three-and-outs on both sides, the East was able to put 3 points on the board, matching the earlier field goal by the West.
With a relentless pass rush coming from both teams, much of the offense in the first half relied on quick passes and very few runs. The West was able to pick up some yards in the run game but nothing much down the field and the defensive backs were able to really contain most of the action.
One of the intriguing matchups in the first half involved West left tackle Victor Salako against East defensive end Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson had a very good game putting pressure on the QB and when matched up against the Salako. It made for a good face-off to watch. In addition to Hendrickson, Bryan Cox also made a number of plays in the backfield as well with a tackle for loss and a number of QB pressures for Team East. Same can be said from Team West with a pair of Razorbacks Deatrich Wise Jr and Jeremiah Ledbetter and Gamecock Darius English putting continued pressure on Team East. This, combined with the solid run defense play by DeAngelo Brown (team East) and Josh Tupou (team West), really set the stage for this defensive battle.
As the 2nd half started, it looked like team East would grab some momentum with some half time adjustments. East running back De’Veon Smith picked up some tough yardage early on and the passing game opened up a bit before a penalty stalled the drive. After a quick three and out, the East again started moving the ball only to have a botched snap stall another drive. With very few opportunities for both offensive units during the day, these two mistakes ended up very costly for Team East.
Team West then began to find rhythm with Wes Lunt under center and it began to open up the running lanes a bit leading to the games first and only touchdown of the game when Elijah McGuire took it in from 18 yards out giving Team West.
The game ended with both defensive units controlling much of the game. A steady pass rush off the edge from both sides really set the tone of play forcing much of the game to come down to quick passes and runs. Without the added dimension of a deep passing attack, the scoreboard reflected with a low score. This game was won in the trenches and Team West ended up on top!
I've been writing off and on since 2003, where I first wrote for Southern College Sports. After a hiatus, I returned in 2012 with The Sports Chronicles, a predecessor of NGSC Sports. After a brief stint with WBLZ in 2017, I came back to NGSC Sports and currently guest write on the site. Also, from 2015 to 2017, I helped run Off the Cuff, a sports program and blog with STLR Media.
I have done radio and podcasts dating back to 2006 with The Student of the Game, an NFL podcast. In 2012, I cohosted TSC Saturday Night on the Sports Chronicles and The OT With Andrew G on WTMY in Sarasota, FL. I later moved the OT to NGSC Sports until 2014 where I started The College Cram, also on NGSC Sports. After a brief hiatus, I returned to radio in 2015 with both Off the Cuff on STLR and The Mad Scientist Sports Lab on The Inscriber.