Kaaya leads West to 31-24 in All-American Bowl

KYLE GLASER (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

CARSON, Calif. (AP) -- Team West heard all week that it was going to have its hands full against their counterparts from the East in their upcoming All-Star Game.

The West made a point of showing it deserved more respect.

Future Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya had one touchdown passing and ran for another, Southern California commits Shay Fields Jr. and Jonathan Lockett each scored a touchdown, and the West defeated the East 31-24 in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Sunday night.

The West scored on its first four possessions to take a 28-0 lead by the second quarter and then held off a late East rally.

''There was a lot of talk in the hotel that everyone was scared of the East, and at the banquet our head speaker said he was rooting for the East, so we couldn't let that happen,'' said West receiver Erik Brown, who had three catches for 58 yards. ''Our game plan was to come out fired up on defense and offense and that's exactly what we did. I think we caught them off guard a little bit.''

In addition to the offense's success, the West's defense recovered a fumble on the East's first two possessions to help facilitate the early onslaught.

''We wanted three (turnovers) and we had two so quick we jumped out on them,'' West coach Joey McGuire said. ''Any time you can go get the momentum with turnovers it makes a big difference.''

East quarterback Clayton Thorson led a comeback effort and was selected the MVP in the losing effort. The Northwestern commit completed 16 of 26 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.

Kaaya, from nearby West Hills, completed 5 of 14 passes for 97 yards, Fields had three catches for 47 yards and Lockett returned a punt 81 yards for a score to lead the West.

Kaaya finished off the West's opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on an option keeper and threw a 15-yard TD pass over the middle to Fields on their second drive.

After the defense forced a three-and-out on the East's ensuing possession, Lockett received a punt at his own 19-yard line and weaved his way down the field to give the West a 21-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. Lockett, a cornerback, also had five tackles and a pass deflection.

''I'd heard the Lockett kid was special and we saw it tonight,'' West coach Joey McGuire said. ''That sucker can fly. He plays a great corner and he's got a great future returning the ball.''

Baylor commit Terence Williams capped off the West's early outburst with a 42-yard touchdown run minutes into the second quarter.

Thorson finally got the East on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Kentucky commit Mikel Horton in the second quarter. He later connected with Xavier Burke on a 5-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 31-24 with 3:04 left in the game.

''(Thorson) is a competitor, a real football player,'' East coach Christopher Merritt said. ''That's what came out throughout the week. That's what you notice about this kid, he's going to compete.''

However, the East turned it over on downs in the final seconds to end the comeback bid.

The East outgained the West 356-271 and committed fewer penalties, but the lost fumbles and the special teams breakdown on Lockett's return nullified those advantages.

''Early on those two turnovers were costly,'' Merritt said. ''It doesn't matter if it's an All-Star Game turnover or a Friday night high school turnover, they still hurt you. They jumped on us quick, but our kids didn't give up.''

Linebacker Bobby Okereke, a Stanford commit, made a game-high eight tackles, including two for a loss, and Oklahoma State commit Jordan Brailford had a sack and 1 1/2 tackles for a loss to lead the West's defense.

For the East, Nebraska commit Darius Slade had two tackles for a loss and a sack and Florida State commit Trey Marshall made the only interception of the game.

Three touted recruits announced their college commitment during the game. West offensive guard Kammy Delp committed to Arizona State, East linebacker Jimmie Swain to Oregon, and East wide receiver Adonis Jennings to Pittsburgh.

The game, put on by the U.S. Marine Corp for three straight years, will not be played in 2015 due to military budget cuts.

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