EL DORADO — A couple of snaps and the victory would be clinched for the East team Saturday night in the 44th annual Kansas Shrine Bowl Football Game.
But two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after an apparent game-winning turnover pushed the East back near its goal line and then amazingly, the West’s Zach Helbing and Tanner Orand combined for a sack of quarterback Brandon Mlekus in the end zone for a safety with 1 minute left, giving the West a stunning 22-21 victory.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the West, which had been the dominant team in recent years until a recent hiccup.
Hesston’s Zach Esau was 5-of-12 passing for 85 yards, running for one score and throwing to Dylan Foos for another.
McPherson’s Jack Reifschneider caught three passes for 38 yards and the Bullpups’ Jared Ruth was an offensive line mainstay as the West piled up 364 yards of total offense.
The West led 14-0 after the first quarter and seemingly was in control of the game, but allowed the East to get back in it because of six turnovers. It was a 14-7 game at the half before the East tallied 14 points in the third quarter to take the lead.