Illinois high school football players take part in annual all-star game at Peoria Stadium.
The Shrine All-Star high school football game Saturday night at Peoria Stadium turned on special teams.
Macomb's Myers Hendrickson returned a kickoff 76-yards in in the final minutes for the go-ahead touchdown, and Peoria Woodruff's Cordele Bennett recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to help seal the West's 21-14 victory in front of about 4,000 spectators.
Hendrickson, headed to Cornell University, was the offensive Most Valuable Player for the winners.
"It just opened up and I saw a lot of green," Hendrickson said of his game-winning return. "It's the kind of thing you don't expect to happen in an all-star game."
The East took its only lead of the game with 2:10 to play. Lexington quarterback Alex Tanney threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to St. Joseph-Ogden's Mark Gones, and Eric Schuler, also of Lexington, split the uprights with the point-after kick to put the East up 14-13.
Thirteen seconds later, Hendrickson dove into the corner of the end zone to finish his go-ahead kick return. Southern Illinois-recruit Bobby Brenneisen threw to Aledo's Darin Blaser for the conversion to put the West up 21-14.
On the ensuing kick, a crunching blow by Casey Happach of Cambridge caused Bloomington's Josh Mitchell to fumble.
Woodruff's Bennett recovered.
"It was a real nice hit," Bennett said. "All of a sudden, the ball was right there. I picked it up and tried to run but I didn't get far."
Nick Vandermyde of Morrison then rumbled 50 yards down to the East 1-yard line.
Brenneisen touched his knee to the turf for the final two plays.
The East managed 20 yards rushing on 24 carries.
Linebackers Teague Dentino of Metamora and Nathan Black of Manlius Bureau Valley were among the leading tacklers for the West.
"We shut them down for the most part," Black said.
The West scored on its initial possession, with Brenneisen diving in from a yard out to cap a 63-yard drive.
Brandon Pence of Bartonville Limestone kept the drive alive by picking up a first down on a 7-yard run.
The Indiana State University recruit suffered what was believed to be a slight concussion on the play. He did not return.
"I stood up and couldn't see straight," Pence said. "The trainer said I should take the rest of the game off. I'm disappointed but I'm glad we won."
The game was tied 7-7 at halftime after East running back Dominique Green of Kankakee Bishop McNamara scored on a 2-yard run 1:40 before intermission.
The West regained the lead late in the third quarter on Aledo receiver Darin Blaser's 37-yard touchdown reception from Oswego's Chris Schulz.
Tanney threw for 168 yards and was named the offensive MVP for the East.
Kevin Glock of Aurora West (West) and Jake Detmers of Normal Community were the defensive MVPs.
Lonnie Schwindenhammer can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.