FOSTORIA - Though not dominant, the East's defense repeatedly found a way in the first half. But in the second half, Cory-Rawson's Jeremiah Alspach and the West's offense found a way around.
Alspach's aerial assault set up two second-half touchdowns and Brady Vaught turned what looked to be a short gain into a 35-yard game-sealer with a little more than three minutes to go Saturday in a 28-7 win in the 29th annual Fostoria Athletic Boosters All-Star Game.
Alspach finished 25 of 40 for 375 yards for the West, but struggled early by going on 1 of 3 with an interception in the first quarter. His first pass of the second quarter went for minus-10 yards and brought out the punt team, and the East capitalized with Columbian's Ben Davis capping a 44-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring run for a 7-0 lead with 9:10 left in the opening half.
Alspach and the West began to click from there, though.
The West's ensuing drive ended on downs at the East 20 and, after forcing a quick punt, turned in a 71-yard scoring march.
A key play was Alspach's 40-yard heave to Lima Central Catholic's Corey Stump to put the West at the 4, setting up Vaught's 1-yard plunge moments later.
A botched PAT kept the East on top by a point, but Alspach's 137 passing yards on an 11-of-17 effort was precursor to the second half.
"He's so good on his feet. The kid can run and make plays, and he's been the starting quarterback there for four years," said Arcadia's Paul Shoemaker, who guided the West. "He's just athletic as heck, and that's just about all you can say. The kid's an athlete."
The West's hopes of taking the lead on the first drive of the second half fell about a yard short on a 35-yard field goal try by Findlay's Brandon Shanahan, but the defense held the East to a pair of three-and-outs before the offense again capitalized.
Liberty-Benton's Dakota Conkle reeled in a 39-yard wobbly pass to set up Alspach's 9-yard scoring run. Vaught then bulled in on the conversion for a 14-7 lead with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
The East appeared to have the answer, with Carey's Tyler Cusac turning a short 3-and-10 Davis pass into a 25-yard gain. But Cusac lost the ball when hit by multiple West defenders at the West 20.
Both defenses stiffened, with the East sandwiching two of its own three-and-outs around a fourth-down stop at its own 22.
But Stump snared a 29-yard TD pass from Alspach with 4:34 to play, Conkle picked off Davis on the East's first play after that and Vaught sprinted 35 yards for a score moments later to make it 28-7 with 3:05 to go.
Alspach was named the West's MVP, with Stump catching eight passes for 185 yards and McComb's Austan Westenbarger (7-85) and Conkle (3-81) combining for another 10 receptions and 186 yards.
Vaught added seven carries for 60 yards to help the West offense keep drives alive.
"Defensively, we just spent too much time on the field. We couldn't get off the field soon enough. That's what ended up winning the game, I think," said Carey's Todd Worst, who coached the East.
"I just thought our defense, we didn't get enough pressure up front consistently, we didn't keep the quarterback in the pocket," he said.
Davis finished 11 of 26 for 137 yards through the air for the East, but the majority of that - 7 of 12 for 84 yards - came in the first half when the East's offense (124 yards) was nearly as productive as the West's (132 yards). However, the West's defense allowed only 53 yards passing and 9 rushing after that while East gave up 253 passing and 65 rushing.
"First half was fun. I think it reaches a point almost sometimes where you'd like to say 'OK, everybody's done having fun and the game ought to be over.' That's part of being in an all-star game, I guess," Worst said.
"I'd like to have played the second half the way we played the first," he said.