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West wins on last-second field goal
BAKER CITY — The 60th annual East-West Shrine football game will go down as one of the most dramatic contests in the long-running series.
A game that saw the East lead, then trail, then rally from 21 points down to tie it at 28 all, came down to a last-second field goal by Dayton’s A.J. Hedgecock that won it for the West, 31-28.
“It was a well-matched football game. It was a lot of fun,” West coach Tim Dodson said.
“There were some special teams things, some long balls. Things here and there that made the game what it was.”
The game was dominated by defense throughout the first half.
The East got on the board first when Weston-McEwen’s Dallas Reich connected with Marcus Lynn of Enterprise on a 63-yard pass and catch with 11:49 left in the second quarter.
The 7-0 lead held until the third quarter, when the West came out charged up and got rolling in a hurry.
After going three and out on its first possession of the second half, the West scored on its next four possessions.
The first came on a three-yard run by Scappoose’s Stephen Bowe.
“Execution is always tough with such a short time to get things together. But the kids did a good job and played through it,” Dodson said.
On the following possession, David Carr of Gaston found Santiam Christian’s Alex Hovelsrud wide open for a 26-yard score to put the West on top, 14-7.
The next score was set up by a blocked punt and saw Sonny Tupua of Siuslaw pound it in from one-yard out to stretch the lead to 21-7.
A 39-yard catch by Hedgecock on a tipped pass from Carr added to the lead and put the West well in control.
“In this type of game you’re going to see the defenses win up front,” West assistant coach Dave Lange said.
“But in the second half the offenses got going and you saw all the points.”
But the East wasn’t about to just lay down.
Reich was able to spring free on a quarterback draw on the East’s next possession and out-raced a West defender on a 79-yard scamper to cut it to 28-14 heading to the fourth quarter.
Early on in the final stanza the West fumbled the ball at the East’s 15-yard line and Heppner’s Cody Orr
That set up another highlight reel play by Reich and Lynn.
The Weston-McEwen product hit a streaking Lynn 40 yards downfield and the Enterprise back raced the rest of the way for an 85-yard score that suddenly got the East right back into the game.
On its next possession, it was Kennedy’s Daniel Hammer who led the East charge.
Hammer put together a 10-play drive that ended on an 18-yard pass to Crane’s Ryan Opie to tie the game with 6:38 left to play.
“The quarterback made a great pass,” Opie said.
“I just had to get my hands on the ball.”
Both teams were forced to punt on the ensuing possessions and the West took over at its own 37-yard line with just under two minutes to play.
From there the West pounded the ball upfield, eventually reaching the 25 yard line with four seconds left, setting up Hedgecock’s attempt.
Despite two attempts by the East team to ice Hedgecock, the kicker booted the ball through the uprights with plenty of leg behind it, sealing off what will be a memorable win for the West.
“That was a fun one to go out on,” Hedgecock said.
“This was an awesome experience. We’re all gonna be friends now forever.”
It was the third consecutive win for the West, and fourth in the last five years, pulling the West within 29-28-3 in the series.