How The West Was Won

How The West Was Won

SAN ANTONIO - In a game that featured the top high school football players in the country, there was little doubt as to which side fielded the best team. Led by future USC Trojans Chris Gallipo and Everson Griffen, the West manhandled the East 24-6, leading with ease from start to finish in the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Saturday.

Gallipo, named the game's Most Valuable Player, racked up tackles from his inside linebacker position, and was all over the field pressuring East ballcarriers for much of the game. Griffen, playing from the edge as a pass rusher, spent the majority of his time in the East backfield, completely shutting down the East quarterbacking quartet of Matt Simms, Will Korn, John Brantley and Sean Mara. The West was so proficient on defense that they held the East to -16 yards of total offense for the first half, on only 13 plays. Simms - the son of former NFL great Phil Simms - had the most success against the West, completing four of seven throws for 30 yards.

The only points the East were able to muster came via a Korn pass to Notre Dame-bound Duval Kamara, a 28-yard score in the corner of the West end zone with 2:13 left in the game. Other than that, the only smiles for the men in black came via a stunning 76-yard kickoff return by Florida speedster Noel Devine. Overall, the East were limited to 57 total yards, and only nine yards on the ground.

Heralded Jimmy Clausen, from Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Calif., - headed to Notre Dame for college - started the game a quarterback for the West, and helped to lead a potent attack that also saw substantial contributions from their two other signal-callers - Ryan Mallett from Texarkana, Tex., and Nick Fanuzzi from Churchill High School in San Antonio.

In fact, the Michigan-bound Mallett had the best throw of the day - a rifle-shot to Terrance Tolliver for a touchdown after sprinting out to the right and eluding a couple of oncoming East pass-rushers. Overall, Mallett went six of nine for 92 yards, while Clausen completed six of 11 passes for 58 yards. The game could have gotten seriously out of hand if it weren't for the two interceptions the west threw that were both picked off by East cornerback Eugene Clifford for touchbacks.

Clausen engineered a 63-yard drive to start the game, one that stalled on the East 5-yard line, forcing a David Green field goal from 22 yards. Green would tack on two more field goals in the half - from 28 and 37 yards - setting a U.S. Army All-American Bowl record for field goals in a game. The game also set a new attendance record - 35, 151, up from the old record of 31, 562.

Up 6-0, the West created some defensive magic via a Curtis Brown interception of a Tyrod Taylor pass and return to the East 6-yard line. Taylor tried to redeem himself by forcing Brown to fumble on the same play, but the ball went out of bounds and the West retained possession. It only took the West three plays to score, as Joe McKnight plunged in from a couple of yards out to put his team ahead 13-0.

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