STOW: The theme for every all-star game is to play and have fun.
Thursday’s sixth annual Thanks4Giving All-Star Football Game at Stow-Munroe Falls High School fit that theme, and also raised money for charities and featured a dramatic ending.
Top senior players from several Summit County schools gathered on an unusually warm Thanksgiving morning, and played before a crowd of more than 1,000.
The defenses dictated play for most of the game, but Buchtel’s Marquis Sams capped the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lead the West All-Stars to a 15-14 win over the East All-Stars.
“I feel real good about scoring that touchdown and two-point conversion,” said Sams, who rushed 20 times for 77 yards and was named the West All-Stars MVP.
“That is something I will remember for a long time. … We drove the ball down the field, and we got the win after we thought we lost it for a second.”
Garfield quarterback Trevon Shephard almost secured a win for the East All-Stars with his own late-game heroics. Shephard completed a 27-yard pass to Twinsburg’s Shawn Smith to put the ball on the West 1 with 2:34 left, rushed for a 1-yard touchdown and then caught a two-point conversion pass from Springfield’s Aaron James with 2:06 to go.
Shephard gave the East All-Stars a 14-7 lead, and was named that team’s MVP.
Norton quarterback Noah Jones guided the West All-Stars on a seven-play drive that covered 76 yards to win the game. Jones started the drive with a 22-yard pass play to James, and also found Copley’s Hayden Neal for two passes that covered 23 yards.
“That drive was about making plays,” Jones said. “It means a lot to win, and it was a very close game. I am thankful to play on Thanksgiving.”
Walsh Jesuit kicker Noah Ball made a 35-yard field goal to give the East All-Stars a 3-0 lead with 3:30 to go in the first quarter. The West All-Stars took a 7-3 lead into halftime on Jones’ 28-yard touchdown pass to Coventry’s Dominic Pegley and an extra point kick by Coventry’s Michael Kimevski with 8:25 left in the second quarter.
Ball made a 24-yard field goal to cut the West lead to 7-6 with 7:10 left in the third.
“I can’t wait to get home and eat,” Pegley said after the game. “I loved playing in this game because I got to meet a bunch of people from different schools. I am already brothers with these guys and I have only practiced with them four times. I love the game of football because of the bonding you can get.”
Kenmore’s Kaleb Bowers recovered a fumble for the West All-Stars. Barberton’s Toriq Ingol and Buchtel’s O’Shae Foster, Derrick Harvey Jr. and Aaron Sims also stood out.
“We came out to play football,” Ingol said. “This was the last game of my career possibly, and it was fun. It feels great to pull out the win.”
Ellet’s LaQuan Portis snagged an interception for the East All-Stars. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Acadmey’s Matt Decipeda also played well along with Garfield’s Make Lanier and Springfield’s Jackie Xiong.
“We knew when we got the ball that if we did score we were going to go for 2,” said Barberton’s Tony Gotto, who coached the West All-Stars. “We wanted to go for the win. We were not going into overtime on Thanksgiving.
“The kids put together a nice drive at the end after we struggled offensively. The quarterback [Jones] made some great throws and we made some catches for big plays.”
Jones finished 9-of-20 passing for 110 yards.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.