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FOOTBALL AT THE TROP

The East-West Shrine Game, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg last weekend, has showcased college football stars and raised money for the Shriners Hospital for Children since 1925. When I was in middle school, I briefly thought I wanted to be a sports reporter, but after this assignment, I am relieved I gave up that dream. This stuff is hard! Nonetheless, I managed to bring you these observations from this year's match:

The Good

1) Passing game: We weren't dealing with any Heisman types here, but that didn't keep coaches from aggressively using a pass game. For the most part, their quarterbacks came through for them.

2) Receivers' legwork: There was lots of hustling from receivers in this game, which led to plenty of extra yards after the catch.

3) Defense: In a game featuring college players with at least a measure of a chance at the pros, 24-17 is a pretty low score. There were more forced turnovers than I cared to count, which didn't make things super exciting, but props to them.

4) The St. Petersburg High School band: That was a tiny band to fill a big venue, but they made me not hate Party Rock Anthem, and that is a feat in and of itself.

The Bad

1) East running game: While the West team showed some impressive rushing leaders, the East running game got to the point where I just sort of zoned out whenever I saw a handoff (it was that boring to watch).

2) The third quarter: Easily the most boring quarter of football I've ever seen. No score, no big defensive stops. The most interesting part was the blond toddler behind me screaming "This clock is going so slow!!"

3) The beginning of the fourth quarter: Until Nick Sukay of Penn State picked it off in the end zone (the only interception of the night), the fourth quarter was going much like the third. However, the action picked up quickly as West scored a touchdown with 47 seconds left and held off the East offense to keep the game from going into overtime.

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