WILD, WILD WEST
Written by: Josh Funk on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
ALTOONA, Pa. – The East-West All-Star game saw some electricity late in the first half with the West team trying to kill the clock.
Then, electricity cut the game short.
After two lightning delays, officials called the 8th annual PSFCA East-West game with 7:18 left in the 3rd quarter. The West, which led 10-0, won by that final margin.
“It’s unfortunate that the game had to get called, but the people in charge had to make a decision,” said West head coach Terry Smith (Gateway). “You gotta look out for the safety of the kids first.”
But some of the East players, anxious to get back out on the field, didn’t see things that way when they found out a series of thunderstorm complexes moving through the Altoona area cut their final high school game short.
In the end, though, the same mistakes that plagued the East in last year’s 24-14 loss haunted them in this latest edition.
After getting the ball back, down 10-0 with :49 left in the first half, the East drove to the West 46 yard line. On 3rd-and-5, with :05 left in the half, Matt McGloin’s (West Scranton) pass to Nihja White (Conestoga) came up 10 yards short of the end zone.
The East then got the ball to start the second half, and embarked on an 11-play, 69-yard, 4:42 drive, but Justin Myer’s (Manheim Central) short field goal attempt sailed wide right.
“I thought things were headed in our direction,” East head coach Ed Gallagher (Souderton Area) said. “There were some adjustments we made at halftime.
“But,” he continued, “we just didn’t finish some things.”
The West, on this night, did finish.
The gold-clad visiting team took its opening drive the length of the field, highlighted by the rugged running of Chris Burns (Wilmington Area) and two spectacular catches by James Jett (Carrick).
That drive was capped by a Drew Hareza (South Fayette) 27-yard field goal.
The punters, and the referees, then became the focal point of the game, as the two squads exchanged field position and the refs threw enough flags to remake the famous “Yellow Brick Road.”
Then, after the East punted, pinning the West at its own 21 yard line with 1:21 left in the opening half, Smith’s team dealt the deciding blow.
On a 2nd-and-15, Marvase Byrd (McKeesport Area) darted 84 yards, untouched, for a 9-0 West lead.
“We knew if he hit the right gap, he could bust it, and that’s what he did,” Smith said.
“He (Terry Smith) said just hit the hole and do what you gotta do,” Byrd said. “Coach told me I could have run for 500 yards tonight if it hadn’t been called.”
The West ran for 150 of its 200 total offensive yards on the night, paced by Byrd’s 97 yards on 3 carries, over 32 yards per carry. Burns chipped in with 43 yards on 9 attempts, and Kyle Simmons (Plum) added 15 yards on 3 carries.
The East was paced by the two quarterbacks – McGloin (6-of-12, 78 yards) and Downingtown West’s Nolan Kearney (7-of-13, 75 yards). All told, the East racked up 200 yards of offense.
Joey Orlando (Bethlehem Liberty) caught 5 passes for 73 yards, and White added 3 receptions for 42 yards.
Smith said he didn’t envision this being the way the game would play out.
“But you take wins however they come,” the Gateway boss said.
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