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LONDON, ON – The East jumped out to an early lead and staved off a late West comeback to win the 2014 East West Bowl 19-12 at London’s TD Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Saturday marked the 12th annual game which places the 90 best university players in the country against each other in an all-star fashion prospects game. A good number of these prospects will go on to compete for an invite to the 2015 CFL Combine and perhaps next year’s Draft.
Scouts from all CFL teams were in attendance with Toronto Argonauts GM Jim Barker and Winnipeg Blue Bombers running backs coach Buck Pierce as some of the more notable CFL personalities on hand throughout the week.
The game capped off a week of combines, testing and learning for the young prospect who are looking to use the showcase as just one of many ways of proving they can get a pro contract down the line.
“This year’s event will once again showcase the incredible talent in the CIS football ranks,” said West head coach Blake Nill, a two-time Vanier Cup-winning head coach with Saint Mary’s who has led his Dinos to the Canada West title each of the past six campaigns, a conference record.
“Each and every year we are pleasantly surprised by the quality of players who attend and how the event itself has evolved.”
The East dominated the first quarter, jumping out to an early 13-0 lead, striking first with a 20-yard field goal.
On the West’s second possession, University of Toronto DB Jaiden McBride jumped a route, and picked off a pass thrown by Guelph quarterback Jordan Lindsey and brought it down to the West 29 yard line.
Lindsey finished the half just 1 of 5 for 12 yards before giving way to Manitoba QB Jordan Yantz.
The East would capitalize on the ensuing drive, when QB Jesse Mills (Carleton) found Concordia WR Jamal Henry for a 31-yard touchdown pass and a 10-0 lead.
The East would put more points on the board when Acadia kicker Ryan Begin nailed an impressive 47-yard field goal to close out the first frame.
After the teams traded safeties to begin the second quarter, the West got on the board when UBC tailback Brandon Deschamps capped off a solid drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge.
Now on the board, the West started to put together longer drives. With 4:53 remaining in the half, they got their biggest gain when Calgary Dinos receiver Jake Harty hauled in a 40-yard pass to set the West up just inside East territory and get themselves out of the shadow of their own goalpost.
The West marched down the field only to come away empty handed. Scrimmaging from the East six yard line, Yantz was sacked on a third-down gamble forcing a turnover on downs.
As the final minute of the half raced down, the East made a push with St. FX running back Ashton Dickson breaking off a 21-yard run. Saskatchewan’s Mark Ingram’s pass knockdown ensured that no more points would go on the board as the East settled for a missed 29-yard field goal attempt a play later.
The teams entered the locker room with the East holding a 15-9 halftime lead.
Lindsey re-entered the game to start the second half for the West. He would take on two drives that resulted in punts. He was unable to solve the East defence and Yantz returned for the remainder of the game.
The game remained 15-9 entering the fourth before Ingram made his presence felt again. The Saskatchewan defensive back picked off a pass to accompany key knockdown to set the West up near midfield. Yantz would promptly lead a nine-play drive but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal which cut the East lead to 15-12.
With the game very much in the balance, the East looked to close it out after Ron Omara picked off a pass and took it down the sideline to set the East up at the West 12 yard line with 4:12 remaining.
Omara led all defenders in the CIS last year with 62 tackles and was named a Second-Team All Canadian with St. FX in 2013. East QB Jeremi Roch couldn’t put the game away however and the East settled for a 17-yard field goal with 2:27 left to regain the six-point lead, 18-12.
After the West conceded a safety, Yantz calmly marched his team down the field, finding Manitoba WR Nick Demski down the sideline for the biggest gain by both teams, 52 yards.
Yantz drove the West inside the five but two penalties backed them up to the East 15 yardline. With third and goal remaining, Yantz looked for York receiver Damone Williams in the corner of the endzone but couldn’t connect.
The over-throw secured the 19-12 win for the East.
Demski led all receivers with seven receptions for 159. Yantz meanwhile, finished 11 of 23 for 238 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The East inched closer in the all-time record in the game as the West leads 7-5.
Note: Personnel from a number of CFL teams acted as guest coaches throughout the week including Pierce (WPG), Dan Dorazio, (BC), Brent Monson (CGY), Brad Miller (SSK), Jeff Reinbold (HAM), Kyle Walters (WPG) and Corey Grant (HAM).