USC recruit Tristan Payton leads East
CARSON, Calif. (AP) Tristan Payton gave Los Angeles-area fans a tantalizing preview of what he can do on Sunday night.
The Southern California recruit had three catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns to lead the East to a 24-3 victory over the West in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl and earned MVP honors.
”I was feeling pretty good all week preparing for this game,” Payton said. ”I just came out and gave it my all.”
Payton, a 6-foot-1 receiver from Jacksonville, Florida, had a 31-yard reception in the second quarter in which he broke 10 yards free of the nearest defender. He added a 58-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to finish off the scoring, getting well behind the secondary once again.
”I plan on just filling some shoes next year with Nelson Agholor going into the draft,” he said. ”I’m just hoping I can get to USC and make it smooth.”
Vanderbilt commit Kyle Shurmur completed 9 of 13 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, and Michigan State-bound running back L.J. Scott ran for 74 yards to lead the East. Dwayne Lawson threw for 70 yards and a touchdown and ran for 45 yards and Ole Miss commit Eric Sweeney had a 1-yard touchdown run.
The East forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter, including interceptions by Duke commit Jordan Hayes and Arizona commit Shun Brown, and limited the West to 250 total yards.
”I thought it was a fun All-Star Game,” East coach Rich Hansen said. ”The kids played hard and they executed. There was a lot of talent in this game.”
After a scoreless first quarter in which the West had a muffed punt and a missed field goal and the East lost a fumble inside the West 25-yard line, East kicker and Texas A&M commit Daniel LaCamera opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal at the 6:25 mark of the second quarter.
The East extended its lead to 10-0 just before half when Payton broke open on an outside slant and hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Shurmur in the front right corner of the end zone.
The East nearly added to its lead early in the second half but Louisville commit Tra’veon Samuel fumbled just shy of the goal line after a 34-yard reception and West cornerback P.J Mbanasor, an Oklahoma commit, recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
The West took advantage of the miscue, marching briskly down the field and getting on the scoreboard with a 20-yard field goal from Joshua Williams with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
Texas commit Charles Omenihu ended the East’s ensuing possession with a sack of Shurmur on fourth down at the West 38-yard line, but the East defense forced a 3-and-out to quickly shut down the West’s hopes of mounting a game-tying drive.
The West had another opportunity to tie after LaCamera hooked a 40-yard field-goal try wide left with 8:09 left in the game, but running back Ja’Mycal Hasty fumbled on the West’s first offensive play after the miss and East cornerback Rashard Causey, who is committed to Florida Atlantic, fell on it at the West 36.
”We just had a bunch of mistakes,” West coach Pete Duffy said. ”Had a lot of `My bad’s’ on the sideline.”
Ole Miss commit Eric Swinney finished off the East’s ensuing drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:21 remaining and, after Hayes pulled down a leaping interception on a deep ball at his own 25-yard line, Payton got loose down the middle of the field and hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass from Lawson with 2:51 left to provide the winning margin.
”When we first called that play I knew it was going to be a touchdown,” said Lawson, who committed to Virginia Tech during the game. ”I just put it up and let everything else take its course.”