By Dusty Deines
The 8-Man DII West All-Stars came up with three straight takeaways on East possessions in the final 6:27 of Saturday’s All-Star Game at Trojan Field in Beloit. In the end, the East turnovers helped them to a 42-34 win in a contest that was back and forth all day.
The East got on the board first with an 8-yard TD pass from Axtell’s Colton Buessing to Ryan Kraushaar of Frankfort. The PAT run failed, and the East led 6-0 just over two minutes in.
From there, the West would score the next two touchdowns, including a 50-yard TD run by Brady Dinkel of Victoria. He added the two-point run to give the West an 8-6 lead, which would be the score when the first quarter came to a close.
Early in the 2nd quarter, Wallace County QB Eric Gfeller hit St. John’s WR Parker Gates on a 61-yard TD pass. Gfeller connected with Landon Walker of Minneola on the 2-point conversion, giving the West their biggest lead of the day at 16-6.
The East struck again right before halftime, as Argonia/Attica’s Alec McDaniel ran a touchdown in from 2 yards out. The PAT failed, making the halftime score 16-12 in favor of the West.
After stopping the West on their first drive of the second half, the East reclaimed the lead with 6:29 to play in the 3rd. Buessing connected with Kraushaar for the second time in the game, this time on a 65-yard TD pass. Buessing hit McDaniel for the two-point conversion, giving the East a 20-16 lead.
The West went right back down the field and scored on a 2-yard TD catch by Dinkel from Gfeller on a 4th and goal at the 2-yard line. The PAT pass failed, as the West led 22-20.
Not to be outdone, the East scored their next TD on a 4th and 7 play. Buessing hit McDaniel on a 23-yard pass, and McDaniel added the two-point run to give the East the lead back, 28-22. That would be the score entering the final quarter.
44 seconds into the 4th quarter, the West tied the game up on a 10 yard pass from Gfeller to Walker. The run failed after the TD and the game was knotted at 28.
The East scored for the final time on a 4-yard TD run by McDaniel with just over nine minutes to play. The PAT again failed, as the East held a 34-28 lead.
The West reclaimed the lead for good with a 1-yard TD by Gfeller, and he added the two-point conversion on a run as well, giving the West a 36-34 advantage.
Taking advantage of three East turnovers late in the game, the West would score a TD off of one of those. With 2:43 remaining, Gfeller and Walker connected for their second TD of the game, a 13-yard pass play that gave the West their final 42-34 advantage.
The West would get another turnover and a turnover on downs on the final two East possessions, lining up in victory formation with 36 seconds remaining to hold on to the 42-34 win.
Despite the West victory, the East still holds an all-time series lead of 10-6 over the West in the DII All-Star Game.
1st, East: Kraushaar 8 pass from Buessing (run failed), 9:41 (East 6-0)
1st, West: Dinkel 50 run (Dinkel run), 7:46 (West 8-6)
2nd, West: Gates 61 pass from E. Gfeller (Walker pass from E. Gfeller), 9:47 (West 16-6)
2nd, East: McDaniel 2 run (pass failed), 0:11 (West 16-12)
3rd, East: Kraushaar 65 pass from Buessing (McDaniel pass from Buessing), 6:29 (East 20-16)
3rd, West: Dinkel 2 pass from E. Gfeller (pass failed), 3:12 (West 22-20)
3rd, East: McDaniel 23 pass from Buessing (McDaniel run), 1:24 (East 28-22)
4th, West: Walker 10 pass from E. Gfeller (run failed), 11:16 (28-28 Tie)
4th, East: McDaniel 4 run (run failed), 9:12 (East 34-28)
4th, West: E. Gfeller 1 run (E. Gfeller run), 7:04 (West 36-34)
4th, West: Walker 13 pass from E. Gfeller (run failed), 2:43 (West 42-34)
DII All-Star Game Stats:
Total Offense: 336 466
Rush Offense: 78 202
Pass Offense: 258 264
Penalties: 2-20 2-20
Score by Quarters:
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
East 6 6 16 6 34
West 8 8 6 20 42
East: McDaniel 20-76, Clark 2-3, Buessing 10-(-1)
West: E. Gfeller 13-94, Dinkel 3-48, Higgason 14-39, B. Sandoval 8-20, Warnke 1-1
East: Buessing 21-28-248, 3 TD, 3 INT; McDaniel 1-2-10
West: E. Gfeller 13-21-239, 4 TD; Dinkel 1-1-25
East: Kraushaar 5-95, McDaniel 6-66, Koch 8-56, Clark 3-33, Buessing 1-10
West: Gates 6-153, Walker 4-53, R. Gfeller 2-41, Janicke 1-9, Dinkel 2-8