West Dismantles East

SAN ANTONIO - At times it looked as if only one all-star team was assembled at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, Saturday afternoon. The West defense, led by USC commits Chris Gallipo and Everson Griffen put a stranglehold on the East offense, and Notre Dame commit Jimmy Clausen earned the start at quarterback in the West's 24-7 convincing victory over the East at the Alamo Dome.

Gallipo had a game-high seven tackles to earn Player of the Game honors, and Griffen had a sack and a fumble recovery while disrupting nearly every play, as the West held the East without a first down in the first half and just 57 total yards in the game.

"It's rare to see such an unselfish bunch of guys on an all-star team," Gallipo stated. "They gave me some lanes, and Everson Griffen tore it up, I think he probably rivaled me for MVP. We were swarming to the football and making plays everywhere."

The offense made a few plays as well.

The nation got its first look at Clausen on national television, and on the game's first drive, the quarterback directed the West on an 11-play 62-yard drive that resulted in the first of three David Green field goals, a game record.

Sharing time with Ryan Mallett and Nick Fanuzzi, the U.S. Army Player of the Year completed 6-of-11 passes for 58 yards, and an interception on a end-of-the-half hail mary.

"It was real special coming out and playing against some of the best guys in the country and getting a victory," Clausen said. "It was just a lot of fun, the speed of the game was real fast and I think I did a pretty good job today."

Clausen's numbers could've been a lot better, but he had a long ball dropped, and on the games first possession, receiver Terrance Toliver failed to get a foot down on a pass to the corner of the end zone.

West running back Gerald Jones opened the game with a 16-yard carry followed up by Clausen to Ron Brooks for another 18 yards. A pass-interference call moved the West up to the 22-yard line and the West eventually got the ball to the 5-yard line. Clausen's third-and-goal pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Justin Trattou, a Irish commit. Green kicked a 22-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead.

The East went three-and-out on its first series, capped by a third-down sack of Matt Simms by Griffen.

After a short punt, the West took over on the East 40-yard line and Mallett led the West to the 11, but the drive stalled, and Green kicked a 28-yard field goal for a 6-0 advantage.

"Our D was playing well, we had a great d-line," Trattou said. "We had a fun week of practice getting after it with each other, and it showed on the field. We were pretty competitive."

The East defense held the West to 256 yards, but that paled in comparison to what the West defense did.

In the second quarter, Curtis Brown picked off East quarterback Will Korn and returned the interception down the sideline 25 yards to the East 6-yard line. Running back Joe McKnight found the end zone from two yards out and the West led 13-0.

The West eventually added Green's record third field goal, and the defense forced three three-and-outs, and two first-half turnovers, and didn't allow any positive yardage. The East was at (-16) total yards heading into halftime.

"The East was talking all week, and we kind of took a backseat and shut our mouths," Gallipo said. "We built some camaraderie between the West and we kind of took it personally coming out here to play in this game. A lot of people say well this is a celebration, which it is, but we wanted to win. We were all competitors on the West and we showed who was the better team."

Notre Dame commit, Duval Kamara caught an 11-yard pass on third down, and the East moved the chains for the first time on its first drive of the second half. The drive stalled when tight end Aaron Hernandez dropped his second pass of the game in the open field.

Mallett later hit Toliver rolling out and avoiding the rush for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Mallett found Jones on a fake extra-point conversion, and the West led 24-0 with 1:31 left in the third quarter.

A 87-yard kickoff return by Noel Devine gave the East its first opportunity to score, but they failed, turning it over on downs. Devine caught the ball at the goal line and found a seam, cut to the far sideline, bounced off two tacklers before being brought down.

"When I caught the ball I seen all the defenders coming towards me, and they were closing in," Devine explained. "Everything was wide open to the right side so I went across the field and hit the hole."

The East finally got in the end zone when Korn hit Irish commit Greg Little for a 28-yard touchdown with 2:13 remaining. The 6-foot-3 Little went over 6-foot-1 Donovan Warren for a beautiful catch, and his only reception of the game.

"It was just a fantastic experience to score, and the only touchdown is even bigger," said Little who earned the start. "But I know all the guys on our team put out blood sweat and tears in practice, and to actually to see it pay off a little bit put a smile on my face."

Eugene Clifford had two interceptions in the end zone for the East, or the score could've been a lot worse.

Irish commit Matt Romine started at guard and was in on all five of the West's scoring possessions. Kamara had just the one reception. Another ND commit, Aaron Nagel saw limited time at linebacker and played on special teams, but did not make a tackle. Running back Armando Allen and tight end Mike Ragone did not play for the East because of an injury.

On his 18th birthday, cornerback Gary Gray was tied for second on the East with four tackles, and nearly intercepted a pass.

"I think I did pretty good today," the Irish commit said. "I could've had an interception, I'm pretty mad about that, but I did my job to the best that I could. I made a couple tackles, and on special teams I flew down and made a couple tackles."

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