St. Petersburg, Fla. — The 93rd annual East-West Shrine game, which benefits Shriner’s Children Hospitals, took place this weekend at Tropicana Field. West defeated the East 14-10 in front of 21,700 fans. Players competed for the attention of professional coaches and scouts before the 2018 NFL Draft. Seventy-four college football programs were represented.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett had a rough first half. Barrett completed one pass on five attempts for 12 yards and one fumble. The fumble was the result of a pass he threw behind the line of scrimmage. The ball was recovered by Wisconsin’s Natrell Jamerson for a 68-yard touchdown for the game’s opening score. Jamerson was the game’s defensive most valuable player.
Barrett gave the East the lead in the third quarter after a 4-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Martin from Division-II school, Slippery Rock University. Their lead was brief as Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek connected with University of Houston wide receiver Steven Dunbar from 35-yards out for the go-ahead score with less than five minutes remaining.
Northern Iowa wide receiver Daurice Fountain was the game’s most valuable player on offense with three receptions for 61 yards. Despite not scoring a touchdown, Fountain’s catches set up both of the East’s scores. Fountain will be attending the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in February.
Valencia Voice was the first to speak with Fountain after the game.
“It was big, being an FCS player, I just wanted to prove to these guys that I could play with the best of the best competition, it’s all a blessing, and this week has been surreal. At the end of the day, I’m still keeping that chip on my shoulder as the underdog,” Fountain said.
Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach, Jonathan Hayes served as the head coach for the East and was tasked with getting players from different schools ready for the game the week prior.
“Probably the greatest challenge is creating chemistry and I think our guys did a great job of that. That’s what you want to do is put them in a position where they can have success and I think we did that,” Hayes said.
For many football fans, the Shrine game is the kickoff of NFL-Draft season. For players expected to be drafted in the first and second rounds, the game isn’t worth risking an injury. However, players expected to be later-round picks or who happen to play for smaller schools, use the game as an opportunity to work with NFL coaches.
Several members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame have participated in the game in previous years such as: Brett Favre, Dick Butkus, John Elway and even former United States President Gerald R. Ford.
Proceeds from the game will go to Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals across America.