Sweet Home back leads East team rushing in Shrine game loss

By Gerry Steele, Baker City Herald: The East defense had no answer for the herd of stallions in the West backfield Saturday at the 49th annual East-West Shrine All-Star football game.

The West had two runners rush for more than 100 yards each and another for 99 yards, on the way to a 24-16 victory before about 4,000 spectators at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.

The victory was the first for the West since 1992. The East entered the game winners of six in a row, and sported a 7-0-1 record in the past eight games. The East still leads the overall series 24-22-3.

Justin Hubbard, who led Amity to the Class 2A state title and ran for more than 2,000 yards last fall, topped the West runners. He scored two touchdowns and rushed 26 times for 132 yards.

Hubbard’s second score, a 24-yard bolt off right tackle, gave the West the lead for good, 18-16, with 4:42 left in the game. The play finished an 11-play, 92-yard drive, all on the ground.

Sherwood’s Tim Harris then put the cap on the win, scoring on a 27-yard reverse with 1:42 left. On the play, West quarterback Joe Robles of Wilsonville handed the ball off to Hubbard running to the left. Hubbard then handed off to Harris who scooted around the right end and into the end zone.

Harris joined Hubbard in triple digits, carrying the ball eight times for 102 yards and one touchdown.

Dayton’s Curt Wilson, the bruiser of the trio, burned and slashed his way to 99 yards on 18 carries.

The West, with 374 total yards, amassed 350 yards on 73 carries.

The West took a 6-0 lead on its first drive, completing a 63-yard march in just eight plays.

Hubbard did the bulk of the work on the drive, carrying five times for 36 yards and the touchdown. Hubbard scored from 10 yards out when he swept around the left end with 10:17 left in the first quarter.

The East took its first lead, 7-6, with 3:38 left in the first quarter.

Nyssa quarterback Jake Holcomb found Grant Union’s Aaron Mathews deep along the left sideline and connected on a 79-yard touchdown play.

With the ball on the East 21, Mathews broke behind Days Creek’s James Hilderbrand near the West 40, made the catch in stride and raced to the end zone. Mathews added the conversion kick.

The second period was scoreless until the final second–literally.

Taking over on its own 23 with 5:20 left in the half, the West methodically marched down the field.

Mixing a variety of running plays between five runners, the West moved to the East 10 with one second left. Time appeared to have run out before the West could call time-out but the officials put one “tick” back on the clock.

That was all Robles needed. He swept around the right side, looking for a receiver to pass to. But, when all his targets were covered, Robles continued to run, picked up a couple blocks and dived into the end zone.

The conversion run failed, leaving the West with a 12-7 half-time edge.

The East defense was fired up in the third period, shutting off the West offense, at least momentarily.

Mazama’s Brendan Quirke intercepted a Robles pass to stifle the West’s opening drive.

Then, after an East punt put the West deep in its own territory at the West 8, the East forced a safety to pull within 12-9.

The East got the safety when the center snap sailed over punter Andrew Farley’s head and out of the end zone.

The scored remained 12-9 until 11:26 remained in the fourth quarter. Then, the East took its final lead on a four yard run by Sweet Home’s Andy Ellis.

Ellis rumbled off right tackle for the score. Mathews again added the conversion kick.

Ellis, who led the East with 54 yards on 10 carries, carried the ball three times for 23 yards on the six-play, 61-yard drive. Holcomb also completed passes of 10 yards to Christopher Marcum of Echo and 28 yards to Joseph’s Clint Steen on the drive.

Following Harris’ TD, the East had one final, futile, bid to tie the game.

Holcomb threw two incomplete passes. Then, the East tried back-to-back option pitch plays to Mathews. Then two running plays came up just inches short of a first down with 36 seconds left in the game.

All Robles had to do then was go down to one knee and let the clock run out.

Holcomb finished the game completing 8 of 15 passes for 170 yards. Marist’s Tim Crawley caught three passes for 54 yards, Mathews two for 80 yards and Steen two for 36 yards.

The East finished with 321 yards in total offense.