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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Familiarity breeds win for East

Louisville's Stefan LeFors, offensive MVP, threw three touchdown passes for the East in the Shrine Game. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – When Stefan LeFors was flushed from the pocket, he forgot all of his all-star game etiquette. The quarterback saw just one receiver: J.R. Russell, his Louisville teammate and his biggest target in the East-West Shrine Game.

LeFors threw two of his three touchdown passes to Russell, and Purdue’s Taylor Stubblefield (Davis High of Yakima) also caught two scoring passes Saturday in the East’s 45-27 victory over the West in the 80th edition of the game.

Teamwork typically is at a minimum in such games, with dozens of stars worrying mostly about their own numbers in a simple game plan. Quarterbacks are expected to keep everybody as happy as possible – but the East squad rolled to 45 points in the first three quarters thanks to players who know each other well.

Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton hit Stubblefield for a touchdown and 103 of his 145 yards passing in the first quarter – on plays called by Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller, no less.

LeFors, who went 10 for 17 for 165 yards, tied the Shrine Game record for TD passes in one quarter of work. He made his two best throws on broken plays to Russell, who caught scoring passes of 37 and 36 yards.

“It’s nice, because we already have a connection,” said LeFors, the game’s offensive Most Valuable Player. “We’ve been doing it for the past five years. … (Tiller) didn’t do that on purpose. He didn’t call plays for us, but if things break down a little, you know who to look for. J.R. came through, as well as Taylor did for Kyle.”

Tiller helped to make every East star look good for the dozens of NFL scouts in attendance. Stubblefield had seven catches for 128 yards as Tiller’s squad racked up 553 yards, and the teams combined for 1,013 yards in the highest-scoring matchup since 1979.

“We’re no fools,” Tiller said. “We know when (LeFors and Russell) are on the field, they know where their eyes are going, which is natural.”

Tiller also relished the chance to make the most of his prolific duo in one last game.

“Even when they’re not on the field, they can tell other guys what to do,” Tiller said. “When you come to a game like this … it’s certainly a big help, and every coach should be afforded that opportunity.”

LeFors also hit Stubblefield for a 7-yard score – and Stubblefield even completed a 37-yard pass to Florida State’s Dominic Robinson, who had five catches for 112 yards.

Orton and LeFors hope strong performances in the postseason all-star games and the NFL scouting combine will push them into consideration with California’s Aaron Rodgers and Utah’s Alex Smith among the top quarterbacks in the draft.

“Both of them are very good quarterbacks,” Stubblefield said. “You could tell they were going to have impressive games. I just tried to keep getting open.”

Gridiron Classic

LSU quarterback Marcus Randall hopes the NFL scouts took note that he’s a quick study.

After being introduced to a new offense five days ago, Randall completed 7 of 11 passes for 88 yards to earn MVP honors at the Gridiron Classic and lead the South to a 24-21 win over the North at Lady Lake, Fla.

“That just shows my knowledge for the game is real,” said Randall, who passed for 2,765 yards and 18 TDs with the Tigers. “I know how to play this game.”

During the week, more than 200 scouts were on hand to see and talk with the 97 players.

In a second half that saw four lead changes, UNLV running back Dominique Dorsey’s 28-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter provided the difference.

For the North, Hampton receiver Jerome Mathis scored on a 26-yard reception and a 38-yard run off a reverse. Mathis had 108 yards of total offense.

“Every time I step on the big stage, I get even better,” said Mathis, one of 10 players who didn’t come from Division I-A programs.

The South was outrushed 234-105 and converted only two of 11 third downs, but took advantage of a key fumble by Boston College’s Grant Adams and three missed field goals by Maryland’s Nick Novak.