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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG ó With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.

And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.

But Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek converted a fourth down with two minutes to play, then threw a 34-yard score to Houston receiver Steven Dunbar, rallying the West to a 14-10 victory in the game for college seniors.

"All these games are always low-scoring because you canít get your timing down," Shimonek said. "Anytime Iím playing a game, Iím competing and trying to win. This was fun, and itís a good way to end it."

Dunbar, who had three 100-yard games in his final four games at Houston, came down with an over-the-shoulder catch and knocked over the pylon with his knee in the gameís biggest highlight.

"We had a lot of ups and downs, ran the ball pretty well but couldnít really connect on the passing game," Dunbar said. "He gave me a good ball and I just made the catch."

The game drew an announced 21,700 for its seventh straight appearance at Tropicana Field, down slightly from an announced 22,198 a year ago. One of the top draws, USF quarterback Quinton Flowers, had to miss the game when his grandmother died late in the week.

The West led 7-0 early on a defensive touchdown, as Delawareís Bilal Nichols sacked Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett to force a fumble that Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson returned 68 yards for a touchdown.

The East took the lead late in the third quarter, as Barrett converted fourth and 1 with a keeper to the 5-yard line to set up a patchwork touchdown.

The East team had 13 players sidelined with various injuries, and midway through the week, Slippery Rock defensive end Marcus Martin ó who set an NCAA all-divisions record with 56 career sacks ó offered himself up as a fullback, having last played offense in high school.

"I said, ĎLet me get in there at fullback. I like to hit people,í?" Martin said. "I had a couple of late nights learning the playbook. The exact play I scored on, we ran in practice. It was an amazing experience. Itís something Iíll take to the grave."

Barrett had a quiet game overall, going 5-for-13 for 69 yards. The East defense had pitched a shutout, recovering a fumbled snap when the West had gotten to the 11-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

The West drove from its 30-yard line in the final 5:32, with Shimonek converting on third and 8 then on fourth and 5 to keep the drive alive, setting up the touchdown to Dunbar.

Shimonek, who didnít become a starter until his senior year but threw for 3,963 yards and 33 touchdowns for Texas Tech this season, easily had the best game of the five quarterbacks, finishing 12-for-18 for 105 yards, with twice as many completions as any other passer.

"I felt like I had a great week," he said.

"This game is obviously more than just football, with everything that we do with the Shriners Hospital."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

     
                 
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