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West Defeats East 21-20, in 50th Kansas Shrine Bowl Football Game Saturday

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HAYS, Kan. – A handful of high school football players from the Central-Kansas area competed for the West team in the 50th Kansas Shrine Bowl Football game Saturday at Lewis Field in Hays, defeating the East 21-20, to claim their fourth win in the last five years.

Sam Becker and Conner McVicker were joined by their Head Coach Jace Pavlovich, who served as an assistant during the game, represented McPherson. Another pair of teammates came from Andale, as Jack Kraus and Riley Marx made the roster, while other members from the West included Eli Brunk (Inman) Nolan Freund (Kingman), Noah Khokhar (Hutchinson), Braxton Lafferty (Little River), Jake Proctor (Hesston), and Jett Vincent (Canton-Galva).

On the West’s second possession of the game they’d drive down the field, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run by Kenyon McMillian (Salina Central) giving the West a 7-0 lead after the extra point.

In the second quarter, Riley Marx picked off a deflected pass and returned the ball to the East 20 yard-line, and on the next play Manhattan’s Keenan Schartz found Circle’s Ty Smith for a 20 yard touchdown putting the West up 14-0 after the PAT.

East finally got on the scoreboard before the half on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Keller Hurla (St. Marys) to Malik O’Atis (Shawnee Mission Northwest). The two-point attempt was no good and the West took a 14-6 lead into halftime.

The third turnover of the game was an interception by the West’s Jalen Rice (El Dorado) leading to a short touchdown drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by Schartz, putting the West on top 21-6 with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter East quarterback Keller Hurla, found tight end Luke Niggeman (Girard) on a two-yard touchdown pass. With less than nine minutes to play, the score was cut to 21-14 after the 2-point conversion. Following a punt, East running back Eric Butler (Olathe Northwest) capped off another long drive with a two-yard touchdown run making 21-20.

The East elected to go for two with the opportunity to take the lead with just over five minutes to play, but Hurla’s pass fell incomplete.

With just over three minutes to play, the East had a chance to put together a game-winning drive but the West defense held on downs as Braxton Lafferty (Little River) got to the quarterback ,and secured the win for the West.

Following the game, Manhattan’s Keenan Shartz was named the West MVP, completing 16-of-18 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown. St. Marys’ Keller Hurla was the East MVP, throwing for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

The West has won four of the last five Shrine Bowl games with the 2022 game ending in a 10-10 tie. The 2024 Shrine Bowl will be played in Emporia.

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