Many have heard the tried and true football mantra, "offense wins games,
defense wins championships." Saturday at Michigan stadium, observers found
out that defense wins all star games as well. In the 25th Annual edition of
the Michigan High School All Star Game, the West D, led by future Wolverine
Terrence Taylor, held the East team offense to only 41 net yards on the ground,
120 yards overall. They also scored two defensive touchdowns, both on fumble
recoveries by Taylor. "It's just the defense," said Taylor after the
game. "We've got great coaches. We just worked hard. Knowing each other
for five to seven days…we just came together as a team and worked hard.
This is the result…a win for the West."
West quarterback Andy Schmidt (Eastern Michigan) started the game's opening
drive for the West and connected on two passes, including a 22-yarder to Michael
Stevenson. Things later stalled at the East 13 yard line, forcing the West to
settle for a Ben Vroegop (Michigan walk-on) 30-yard field goal. The East returned
the kickoff eight yards to their own 19, but their first offensive play of the
game was a disaster. A fumble led to the game's first touchdown, as Taylor picked
up the stray pigskin to give the West an early 10-0 lead. "It was crazy,"
exclaimed Taylor! "I just saw the ball and I grabbed it."
The East didn't fair much better on its second drive, and allowed the West
to go right back to work on offense. After starting out with great field position
at its own 47, four consecutive runs drove the offense to the East 39 yard line.
That set up a long touchdown pass from Schmidt to Chad Richardson (Findlay)
to put the West out front 17-0.
The East offense still had not gotten on track by the start of the second quarter,
so their defense had to step up to their plate to jump start the scoring. With
the West looking to pad its lead even more, East cornerback Lance Caldwell picked
off a Sean Brown pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to make the score
17-7. That proved to be a much needed boost for the East and their defense continued
to apply the pressure. On the next drive they stuffed the West offense for negative
yardage and forced a punt. Later in the quarter, East quarterback Dontayo Gage
hit tight end Connor Barwin (Cincinnati) for a 35-yard touchdown. Despite the
missed extra point, the East team had great momentum as they headed into the
half down by only four, 17-13.
Both defenses came out of the locker room strong, but in the middle of the
quarter it was the West team's D that would step forth with a big play. With
the East offense in the shadow of its own goal line, they again mishandled the
ball. Terrance Taylor was 'Johnny on the spot' for the second time on the day
and put his squad up 23-13."My mind just went blank and I just grabbed
it." Taylor later said of the recovery.
Taylor dives on the ball for his second touchdown.
The fourth quarter began with the East offense at the West 25 thanks to an
Otis Wiley (Michigan State) fumble on a punt return. The East drove all the
way to the West six yard line before cashing in with a fade to Connor Barwin.
The future Bearcat made an amazing one handed grab in the corner of the end
zone over Wiley's outstretched arm to bring the East within three.
When the West got the ball back, the plan was very clear. They wanted to run
the ball and eat some clock. Erik Westdorp did much of the work, as he ran with
passion on drive and picked up 47 yards on four carries. The West ate up over
seven minutes and 80 yards before Andrew Hawkin (Michigan State) punched it
in from one yard out to make the score 30-20.
The East's final drive started with promise, as passes to Frank Zombo (Central Michigan) and Ryan Allison (Michigan State) gained 24 yards. Unfortunately for
them, another fumble off of a high snap gave the ball and the game to the West.
After turning in a dominant performance, Terrence Taylor took the time to talk
about how special the game was for him. "It means a lot." He said.
"My last high school game…with a win and playing with great guys…this
is how you want to end it. I wanted to come out and have a good game. I wanted
US to come out and have a good game. That's exactly what we did. We came out
here and played hard. We beat the East. That's two years in a row. It meant
a lot to everybody. I'd been coming to this game for three years. Every game
I came to, the West lost [except for] last year, and I didn't come to that game.
I just wanted to come here and play hard, have everybody else play hard, show
them what it meant to me and hopefully it meant the same to them. We just came
out here excited, ready to play football. No one has been in pads in what feels
like forever, of course we're going to be hype!"
Although he only registered 1.5 tackles, his dominance was clear. When asked
if he felt that he couldn't be blocked, the future Wolverine answered, "at
times I felt that way."
The all time series is now 13-12 with the East holding a one game lead.
East Offensive Leaders:
Terrance Blevins: 10 attempts, 49 yards
Dontayo Gage: 5 attempts, 48 yards
Dontayo Gage: 2 of 5 attempts, 43 yards, 1 touchdown
Aaron Roelfs: 3 of 7 attempts, 28 yards
Ryan Allison: 4 catches, 28 yards
Connor Barwin: 2 catches, 41 yards, 2 touchdowns
East Defensive Leaders:
Andrew Brown: 5 tackles
Baher Faik: 4.5 tackles
Malcolm Arrington: 4 tackles
Chris Faison: 1.5 tackles for loss
Lance Caldwell: 1 interception
West Offensive Leaders:
Erik Westdorp: 9 attempts, 55 yards
Mike Wiltsie: 9 attempts, 33 yards
Andy Schmitt: 4 of 8, 82 yards, 1 touchdown
Ben Vanzale: 2 catches, 21 yards
Chad Richardson: 1 catch, 39 yards
West Defensive Leaders:
Scott Hekstra: 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack
Otis Wiley: 3 tackles
Bryce Rucker: 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack
Terrence Taylor: 1.5 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 touchdowns