Adams steals spotlight in East-West
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Vernon Adams Jr. conceded it felt a little strange standing on the sideline for the entire second half of the 91st East-West Shrine Game.
"It was weird, you know, just not playing as much," the Oregon quarterback said Saturday after throwing for 191 yards and three touchdowns while playing less than a half of the West's 29-9 victory in the annual college all-star game at Tropicana Field.
"All of us guys out here are used to playing so much, and it was weird that we weren't playing as much," Adams added. "When I was in there, I thought we were very successful as an offense and the momentum (spurred) the defense, so that was good."
The former Eastern Washington star who transferred to Oregon to finish his college career tossed scoring passes of 93 yards to Purdue's Danny Anthrop, 11 yards to Colorado State's Kivon Cartwright's and 10 yards to Illinois' Geronimo Allison as the West built a 23-9 halftime lead.
Allison, who grew up nearby Tampa, also caught a 6-yard scoring pass from Indiana's Nate Sudfeld and finished with six receptions for 68 yards.
"It was very exciting to come home and play in my backyard. I had a lot of family all over the stadium," Allison said. "It's just a blessing to be here. I've been through a lot, and it was a long journey to get to this point. I think I made the most of this opportunity today and this week during practice."
Florida cornerback Brian Poole returned an interception 98 yards for the East's only touchdown. He left late in the first half with a collarbone injury.
"It was similar to the play that happened in the Super Bowl last year," Poole said, referring to Malcolm Butler's game-saving interception for New England against Seattle.
"I saw the one receiver line up on the ball and the other line up off the ball, so I knew he was going to try work in the slot and I just jumped the route," Poole added. "The quarterback didn't see me."
Navy's Keenan Reynolds, who is trying to transition from quarterback to running back after setting the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns with 88, did not play for the East because of back spasms.
Adams completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 2,643 yards, 26 touchdowns and six interceptions at Oregon, where he transferred after graduating from Eastern Washington.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound quarterback entered after West starter Brandon Doughty threw a pair of interceptions, one of which Poole returned to give the East an early 9-0 lead. Poole's Florida teammate, linebacker Anthony Harrell, had the first interception off the Western Kentucky quarterback, setting up a field goal.
Adams completed 6 of 9 passes for 191 yards in the opening half alone. Anthrop had five receptions for 120 yards up to that point, and the West put an exclamation point on a dominating half when safety Mike Caputo intercepted Wisconsin teammate Joel Stave and returned the ball 66 yards to the East 11, where the Badgers quarterback made the tackle.
"How weird was it? It wasn't weird. It was cool," Caputo said. "Whether it would stop my former QB or not, I just read the play and I just jumped it."
Michigan's Jake Rudock started at quarterback for the East and shared playing time with Stave and Massachusetts-Amherst's Blake Frohnapfel.
Each of the East quarterbacks was intercepted once, while throwing for a combined 117 yards. Rudock was 8 of 14 for 77 yards, but threw a fourth-quarter interception to stop one promising drive, and another possession inside the West 20 stalled on downs.
Doughty finished 11 of 17 for 87 yards and two interceptions. Sudfeld was 6 of 13 for 46 yards.