During all week at the Shrine practices, I knew it was going to be a defensive battle, as the final scored ended 10-3 with the West team pulling out the close victory. Both defenses were loaded with day two talents for the upcoming NFL Draft, plus the same as the offensive portions of each teams, but they did not produce statistically in front of a 22,198 fans at the 92nd Shrine Game in Tropicana Field. This was the sixth consecutive Shrine Game played at the Trop.
Also, Calvin Munson spoke among the West players and said a phrase that mostly all football fans know, “Defense wins championships.” During the game, the East team had quite a few chances to put major points on the boards, but the teams were mightily prepared to battle today, as Munson also added, “both defenses showed up today.”
USC Trojan and former Armwod High School star Leon McQuay III made his return back to the state of Florida and had a good week in general. He picked up two tackles in the Shrine Game. The safety added a reason on why they won by saying “All week in practice, getting to know each other, we just got better.” That is why the defense caught on so quickly.
On the other side of the ball, Louisiana-Lafayette’s very own Eli McGuire for the West team scored the game leading 18-yard touchdown run that helped him capsulize on reeling in the 2017 Shrine Game Offensive MVP Award. On top of scoring, he added 42 rushing yards on seven carries that resulted in an impressive average of six yards per carry. McGuire on the game-winning touchdown and award, “For me to actually contribute to the win was beautiful. It all starts with the O-line. They did a great job blocking up front.”
In addition, the two other running backs on the west team picked up 40 plus yards each. The running game moved the chains and killed time off the clock, plus gave the defense enough time to get a breather to get ready to make more key stops. The west defense held the East offense to only converting 3-of-15 on third downs. Shockingly, they held the most heralded running back in the game (De’Veon Smith) to only 11 carries and 23 yards.
Furthermore, Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr had a game-high eight tackles (1 TFL), 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and four quarterback hits for the West, but it was Florida Atlantic’s Trey Hendrickson who won defensive MVP honors with a sack-fumble for the East.
Finally, Wise should have taken home the defensive MVP honors, but Hendrickson was a wrecking ball every time he was in the game, forcing the West team to rotate left tackles to try and stop him, but that did not work. Mike Mayock of NFL.com added that “Hendrickson had a tremendous week, and I think he got himself into the conversation as a potential top-100 pick after his showcase.”