ST. PETERSBURG — For much of the first half of the 88th annual East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, points were at a premium for both teams.
A 15-second scoring barrage late in the first half, however, was enough to propel the West to a relatively easy 28-13 victory in front of an announced 18,000.
Holding a slim 7-3 lead, the West pulled ahead when quarterback Matt Scott (Arizona) connected with Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis on a 57-yard touchdown with a minute to go before halftime.
Then, with the East team trying to mount a late scoring drive before halftime, West cornerback Nigel Malone (Kansas State) jumped a pass by East quarterback Colby Cameron (Louisiana Tech) on an out pattern and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 21-3 advantage.
The 14-point swing effectively ended any hopes of an East victory.
"I didn't exactly finish how I wanted to in the Fiesta Bowl," Malone said, referring to his Wildcats' 35-17 loss to Oregon on Jan. 3. "This meant a lot to come out in my last, real college game and come up with a victory, especially with a great group of guys."
Bumphis' touchdown was aided by a bit of luck. East cornerback Branden Smith (Georgia) snuck under Bumphis on a short out pattern and looked to make an interception, but the ball went through his hands and right to Bumphis, who made the catch while tiptoeing the sideline then outraced the East defense.
"I was kind of cheating. I looked at the Jumbotron to see where the ball was," said Bumphis, who had four catches for 92 yards. "I looked up at the screen and (Scott) was getting ready to throw, so I turned around and the ball was there. … We have one at (Mississippi State) that's huge, so I had a little practice."
The East took advantage when the West's Jasper Collins (Mount Union) muffed a punt late in the third quarter to set up its only touchdown. Army wide receiver Trent Steelman, who has also played quarterback for the Black Knights, lined up in the wildcat and finished a three-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown on a keeper through the middle of the defense.
On its ensuing possession, the West pushed its advantage back to 17 points with a time-consuming drive that took up nearly half of the fourth quarter.
Texas A&M running back Christine Michael, the game's leading rusher with 42 yards on 13 carries, had a 6-yard touchdown run, picking and weaving his way through the heart of the East defense for a 28-10 lead.
Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis booted a 48-yard field goal late in the second quarter and added a 37-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining in the game to account for the rest of the East's scoring.
Middle Tennessee State wide receiver Anthony Amos had a 3-yard touchdown run on a reverse to give the West an early lead on its first drive of the game.