By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
LA PUENTE – There were members of the East who believed the West’s victory in last year’s San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame Game was a fluke.
They proved the point Friday.
Charter Oak’s Chris Allen and Kiely Rycraw accounted for four touchdowns between them, the Chargers’ Evan Williams had an interception for a score and Rowland’s Brandon Stansell returned a punt for another as the East cruised to a 34-9 victory in the 30th Hall of Fame Game at Bassett High School. It’s the largest margin of victory by either side since the West scored a 26-0 victory in 2001.
“It felt good,” said Allen, who is giving up football to play Division I baseball at Cal State Northridge. “We came in here with an attitude. We took it upon ourselves to be more physical and show them what the East is all about. We just wanted to get the win back on the East side.”
But the West, keyed by a 66-yard pass reception from Matt Torres to South El Monte’s Manny Acosta, took control early, but could just manage a Bobby Maldonado 25-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead, despite two drives inside the East 20.
“We just had too many mistakes. We were in the red zone like five times and kept turning it over,” said Acosta, who finished with 119 yards receiving. “But I don’t mind. This was my last football game, and I just went out there to have fun.”
The East, which had a minus-21 yards in its first two possessions, started to enjoy itself by the second quarter, and San Dimas’ Daniel Joseph proved to the difference.
Joesph, a key cog in the Saints’ high-powered offense this past fall, rushed 10 times for 71 yards, including runs of 29 and 23 yards to advance the East to the West 10. Two plays lost five yards before Allen tossed 15 yards to Rowland’s BJ Oyefeso on a fade route for a 6-3 lead with 4:45 left in the half. The conversion failed.
“BJ just said throw up the ball and he’ll go get it,” Allen said.
The East then left it up to its defense and special teams to take control over the final five minutes of the half. The defense did it first.
Walnut’s Chima Ike pressed Torres into an errant throw that was picked off by Charter Oak’s Evan Williams, who returned it back 48 yards to push the advantage to 13-3 with 1:25 left.
Stansell, who already had the big interception to stop one drive, then got into the act. He showed his athleticism, zig-zagging through defenders to return a punt back 56 yards on the final play of the first half for a 20-3 lead.
“Yeah, it was a big return,” Stansell said. “The coaches wanted me to fair catch it. But when I saw the hole (on the right side) I just picked it up and ran.”
Rycraw then got into the act, catching TD passes of 21 and 23 yards from Allen and South Hills’ Cameron Deen, respectively, for a 34-3 advantage early in the third quarter.
The West made it 34-9, driving 99 yards and scoring on a 1-yard run by Rosemead’s Angel Alejandre.
“We used last year as motivation,” Stansell said. “We wanted to bring it back to the East. We were getting tired what they were saying and we had to come out here and show them.”
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