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NEW PHILADELPHIA -- It was a West wipeout in the 40th Annual Times-Reporter Charity All-Star Football Game.
Two first-quarter touchdown passes including one on a beautifully executed fake punt jump-started the West All-Stars and their team speed on both sides of the ball was more than the East could handle as the West raced past the East 41-0 before a large crowd at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium on Friday.
The teams feature the area's best graduated seniors playing in one final game to raise funds for the local Rainbow Connection, which provides services to area families. Since its inception in 1978 the game has raised more than $342,000 for charity.
The West, which scored the second most points by a team in the game's history (next to the 43 points scored by the West in 2006), also leads the all-time series 21-19. It was the first game on the new field turf at Quaker Stadium, and the West made it look real fast.
"We just spread the ball around," said winning West coach John Slusser of Ridgewood, who has won all four games he has served as a head coach in the game. "We have a lot of great athletes and we knew we wanted all of them to touch the ball frequently."
The West roster boasted record-breaking Garaway quarterback RJ Jacobs of Garaway, one of the state's all-time passing leaders, but their four TD passes came from two other guys Ridgewood's Jhett Slusser and Coshocton's Andrew Mason.
Slusser opened the scoring when he hooked up with high-flying Dover receiver DeAndre Clark, who again pulled a pass from the sky in the corner of the end zone at Quaker Stadium for a 28-yard scoring pass. Clark, who had two nearly identical spectacular touchdown passes to lead the Tornadoes over host New Phila last October, was the West offensive most valuable player after catching 10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
The West's next possession sputtered into a fourth-down-and-nine situation when they pulled out a little All-Star magic. Mason, the up man in the West punt formation, took a short snap and found his Redskin teammate Dallas Griffiths over the middle for a 39-yard catch-and-run TD pass. A conversion run by Slusser made it 16-0 at the 3:10 mark of the first quarter.
"We got down too far too fast," said East coach Jeremy Shaver of Claymont. "It happens."
Things got no better for the East in the second quarter as Coshocton's Jake Fortney ran in from six yards out to push the lead to 22-0.
Later in the quarter, the East put together its best drive of the night and reached the West 6-yard line before losing two yards on a run and then an interception in the end zone by Braeden Smith of Ridgewood seemed to zap any remaining energy from the East.
Then came one of the game's most entertaining plays.
Slusser picked up a botched snap and was able to toss a short pass to West wide receiver Maguire Morris of Dover over the middle in a crowd of defenders. Morris worked his way through the East defenders and then broke away for a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown for a 29-0 halftime lead.
Compounding the problems for the East were four interceptions by the West from Zach Michael of Ridgewood, Smith, Jared Burnworth of Strasburg and Trevor Petitte of Garaway.
Jacobs found the end zone in the third quarter with his feet when scored on a seven-yard run and with the 35-0 lead, the running clock rule was ushered in. Clark finished the game's scoring with his second touchdown pass, a two-yard toss from Mason.
The West held a whopping edge in total yards 346-62 and held the East to negative yards rushing, too (-17).
East wideout Evan Keck of Sandy Valley had five catches for 28 yards and earned his team's offensive MVP honors. Defensive end Lukas Kimble of New Philadelphia was in on numerous tackles and snagged the defensive most valuable player award.
The defensive MVP for the West linebacker Peter Hopwood of Tusky Valley, who was very disruptive in the East backfield for most of the evening.