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Oregon's Vernon Adams shines in East-West Shrine Game

Pick play: Brian Poole, right, a cornerback at Florida, celebrates after his 98-yard interception return for a touchdown for the East team in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field. Gators teammate Anthony Harrell, left, and Michigan’s Joe Bolden join in.
Pick play: Brian Poole, right, a cornerback at Florida, celebrates after his 98-yard interception return for a touchdown for the East team in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field. Gators teammate Anthony Harrell, left, and Michigan’s Joe Bolden join in.
Published Jan. 24, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Oregon's Vernon Adams, out to show he can make it as a 5-foot-11 quarterback, came up big Saturday, throwing three touchdowns in the second quarter to lead the West to an easy 29-9 win over the East squad in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.

"It's just football, I've been playing it all my life," Adams said of picking up former Falcons coach June Jones' offense in a week. "You throw the ball, they catch it. Let's go. Shout out to the O-line and the receivers making me look good. I'm happy we got the win."

Adams, voted the game's most outstanding player on offense, threw for 191 yards in three series, including a 93-yard score to Purdue WR Danny Anthrop. Adams threw a touchdown to Colorado State TE Kivon Cartwright on the first play of the second quarter, and a 10-yard touchdown to former Spoto and Illinois WR Geronimo Allison, who added a second touchdown as the game's final points.

"It means a lot. I'm blessed to have this opportunity to compete in front of so many fans and such competition," said Allison, who finished with 68 yards on six catches. "I felt like I made the most of my opportunities."

Gators pick two: The East led 9-0, due largely to interceptions by two Florida Gators. Brian Poole, a cornerback from Bradenton Southeast High, picked off Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown. Earlier, former Jesuit LB Anthony Harrell's pickoff set up a field goal.

But Poole injured his collarbone and had his right arm in a sling afterward, saying it would be a four-week injury.

"We lost, so it doesn't mean a whole lot," said Poole, who said he thought of Patriots CB Malcolm Butler's clinching goal-line interception at the end of last year's Super Bowl as two receivers lined up in front of him before the snap.

Harrell had a game-high six total tackles.

Sidelined: Former Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, hoping to make an NFL roster as a running back, was held out of the game due to back spasms. On Friday night, he won the Shrine Game's Pat Tillman Award, given to the player who "best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service."

Florida State LB Terrance Smith played early but said he took himself out of the game after his hamstring tightened. He'll focus on preparing for the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

On the rise: Announced attendance was 23,006, which is up for the third year in a row, after 22,296 last season. The game will be back at Tropicana Field for a sixth straight year in 2017.

This and that: The East-West split isn't always exact: Wisconsin S Michael Caputo intercepted Wisconsin QB Joel Stave in the second quarter. Caputo added a second pick in the end zone in the fourth quarter, off Michigan's Jake Rudock. He was named most outstanding defensive player. … Charlie Weis' East offense struggled early. At one point the West had 13 first downs to one for the East and a 359-70 edge in yards.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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