BY DUSTY DEINES
8-MAN ALL-STAR RADIO NETWORK
BELOIT – The East All-Stars had six takeaways including an interception with just five seconds remaining to seal a 35-34 win in Saturday afternoon’s 8-Man DI All-Star Game at Trojan Field in Beloit.
The West had a chance to take the lead on a 2-point attempt, but the East stopped a Wichita County QB Kayde Rietzke pass attempt to preserve the one-point victory.
The West took their first drive deep into East territory, getting inside the 10-yard line. However, on a fourth down play, Ryan Wolgram of Madison began a special day with an interception in the end zone for the East. On the first play of scrimmage for the East offense, Little River’s Jayden Garrison promptly ran 65 yards to paydirt for the first score to give the East the 6-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, the West’s second drive ended with another interception by Wolgram. Set up at the West 17, the East needed three plays to extend their lead, as Garrison ran another one in from 12 yards out to put them up 12-0.
Undeterred, the West regrouped and score on two straight possessions. Wichita County QB Kayde Rietzke scored from 11 yards out to cut the East lead to 12-6. The West would recover an onside kick following that score and three plays later, Rietzke was in the end zone again, this time from two yards away on the final play of the first quarter to tie the game at 12.
Just 16 seconds into the 2nd quarter, the East had the lead back. Clifton-Clyde QB Aiden Rudolph answered what his teammate Garrison had done in the 1st quarter with a 65-yard touchdown run of his own, as the East went up 18-12.
On the next West possession, Hunter Engle of Madison registered the third takeaway of the game, intercepting a shovel pass in the backfield. Set up at their own 31, Garrison found a wide open Owen Eidman from Chase County for a 49-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive, extending the East lead to 24-12.
The West regrouped again, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Rietzke to South Gray’s Aaron Skidmore. Rietzke hit Trace Tasset of Spearville for the first successful 2-point conversion of the day to cut the East lead to 24-20 with 3:34 left in the first half. The East would take the four-point advantage into the locker room at half.
The East opened the second half with an 8-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Garrison. Rudolph added the two-point run to put the East up 32-20. Rudolph also made his presence known on defense on the next drive, recovering a West fumble to put the East in business at the West 21.
In a rare occurrence in 8-Man football, facing a fourth-down at the West 10, the East opted for a field goal. Little River’s Graham Stephens calmly booted the 27-yard attempt through the uprights to put the East up 35-20. In the end, it would be the difference in the game.
Trailing 35-20, the West scored just four seconds into the fourth quarter on a 4th and goal three-yard pass from Rietzke to the 6-11 Harlan Obioha from Hoxie. Rietzke ran in the all-important two-point conversion to cut the East lead back to one possession at 35-28.
The West recovered the ensuing onside kick again, but a 12-play drive ended with an interception by Eli Campbell of Sedan. However, the East went three-and-out and was forced to punt. The West would take that drive 53 yards in just seven plays, capped with a three-yard touchdown run by Cyrus Green from Rawlins County with 2:52 remaining.
On the final drive for the East squad, facing a 4th and 1 from their own 36, they went for the win. Lucas Webster of LaCrosse and Brody McDowell of Hill City stopped Aiden Rudolph on the play, getting the turnover on downs with 55 seconds remaining. The West had one final opportunity, but with five seconds left, a Rietzke pass was intercepted by Grant Wolgram of Madison to seal the win for the East.
The East's Wolgram was the defensive player of the game with three interceptions. For the DI East offense, Garrison finished with 172 yards rushing on 21 carries with three touchdowns. He also added 81 yards and a touchdown passing. Rietzke finished 21 of 32 passing for 209 yards and two scores. He ran 33 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
East 12 12 11 0—35
West 12 8 0 14—34
E—Garrison 65 run, 8:10
E—Garrison 12 run, 5:53
W—Rietkze 11 run, 0:23
W—Rietzke 2 run, 0:00
E—Rudolph 65 run, 11:44
E—Eidman 49 pass from Garrison, 9:50
W—Skidmore 29 pass from Rietzke (Tasset pass from Rietzke), 3:34
E—Garrison 3 run (Rudolph run), 7:34
E—Stephens 27 FG, 3:01
W—Obioha 3 pass from Rietzke (Rietzke run), 11:56
W—Green 3 run, 2:52
EAST—37-270; Garrison 21-172; Rudolph 5-69; Collins 10-30; Wolgram 1-(-1); WEST—42-178; Rietkze 33-102; Hamel 4-37; I. Salmans 3-13; Green 1-3; Tasset 1-3
EAST—Garrison 2-4-0, 81; Rudolph 0-1-0; WEST—Rietzke 21-32-3, 209
EAST—Eidman 1-49; Elkins 1-32; WEST—Tasset 8-69; Skidmore 3-43; Phillips 2-42; Huggins 3-37; Obioha 2-7; Hamel 1-4