St. Petersburg, FL - On a sunny, beautiful day here in Tampa, at Tropicana Field, the West team defeated the East team, 10-3 in the 2017 East-West Shrine Game. It was a bit of a sloppy affair, as both teams seemed to struggle offensively. Late in the second half, both offenses were able to find somewhat of a grove, as they were able to drive the ball down the field. On some of these drives though, both teams were hampered by drops, miscommunication or plays that lost yardage. The only touchdown of the game came in the second half.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the East team went for it on 4th down and one yard to go, on the West 43 yard line. The football was handed off to East running back De’Veon Smith, from Michigan, who was stopped by the West defense for no gain, resulting in a turnover on downs. On the very next play, West quarterback Gunner Kiel, out of Cincinnati, completed a deep pass down the sidelines to wide receiver Karel Hamilton, out of Samford, for a huge 24 yard gain. Two plays later, Running back Eli McGuire, from Louisiana-Lafayette ran straight up the middle for an 18 yard touchdown.
Offensively, the West team was led by Quarterback Wes Lunt, from Illinois. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 101 yards and finished with a 96.7 quarterback rating, by far the best out of any quarterback in the game. McGuire was named Offensive MVP as he finished with seven carries for 42 yards and the lone touchdown.
Defensively, the West team was led by defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. from Arkansas. He led the team with eight total tackles, had a sack and a half and also a forced fumble.
The East team was led by quarterback Cooper Rush, out of Central Michigan. He completed 11 of 17 passes for 94 yards. He led a few of the promising East drives late in the game but was unable to produce any points from those drives. Smith had 11 carries for 23 yards to lead the rushing attack.
The East defense was led by Defensive MVP Trey Hendrickson from Florida Atlantic. He had two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and seemed to be causing havoc for the opposing offensive line whenever he was on the field. Linebacker Richie Brown, from Mississippi State, also contributed defensively as he led the team in total tackles with six.
While this year’s East-West Shrine game wasn’t impressive offensively, this game gave players another opportunity to put more game film on tape and show what they could do in a different system, with different coaches and players around them. This game was very important to every player who played in it, as it allowed them to showcase their talents to NFL scouts and teams, in a different environment outside of college.