SAN ANTONIO - The West quarterbacks were chased down all game, tracked by a relentless group of East defensive linemen who finished with 12 sacks and were led by four-star defensive ends Aaron Lynch and Ray Drew, who had 2.5 sacks each.
The East defense dominated in a 13-10 victory over the West Saturday in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in front of 37,893 at the Alamodome.
As dominating as the East defense was all game, the West took a 10-0 lead into the fourth quarter. That's when things opened up for the East with two scores.
Louisville quarterback commit Teddy Bridgewater hit Rutgers pledge Miles Shuler for a 22-yard touchdown with 10 minutes left to make it 10-6. Earlier, Bridgewater overthrew Clemson commit Sammy Watkins on a deep ball.
"It was third down, they were in cover zero and we had the vertical switch routes," Bridgewater said. "It was a tough play to stop in man coverage and he just floated out and exploded out to the vertical.
"It's all about perfecting your craft and sometimes you make mistakes and you have to bounce back. Sometimes you overthrow a player and sometimes you want to bounce back with a nice pass."
Less than six minutes later, Florida State running back commit James Wilder Jr. punched it in from three yards for the final score. Wilder finished with 39 yards and the touchdown on nine carries.
Even though Demetrius Hart didn't score the Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips star became the first running back in Army game history to rush for 100 yards with exactly that number on eight carries. His 69-yard scamper helped get him to the century mark.
The game's first score came on a 22-yard field goal by Ben Pruitt with 7:23 left before halftime. USC quarterback commit Cody Kessler hit Texas receiver pledge Jaxon Shipley for a 35-yard touchdown with 8:22 remaining in the third for a 10-0 lead.
On defense, De'Anthony Thomas, who said after the game he plans to solely play running back at USC, led the West with eight tackles. He and four-star cornerback Stefan McClure each had an interception. Wisconsin linebacker commit Jake Keefer had a fumble recovery. Juda Parker blocked a field goal and six tackles.
Lynch said he plans to meet with coaches from Florida State and Notre Dame on Saturday night and is still committed to the Seminoles but is considering a visit to the Irish soon.
Style of defense will play an influence in Lynch's decision and he prefers a 4-3 scheme like Florida State instead of Notre Dame which runs a 3-4.
"I want to go out and play," Lynch said. "I don't want anybody lying to me. I want to be able to trust the people I'm going to play for.
"I'm more of a 4-3 guy. I'm more speed than strength. For a 3-4 you need to be stronger. I have strength but my speed makes me as good of a d-end as I am."
After his solid week of practice and his performance in Saturday's Army game, Lynch has proven to be one of the nation's best defensive ends. But just how good?
The Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast recruit gives credit to Jadeveon Clowney, the top prospect by Rivals.com, but thinks he's in the same class.
"I'm not trying to be cocky but I think I'm the best," Lynch said. "Everybody is good. Everybody at this level who's in this game or the Under Armour game is great but I think I'm the best.
"(Clowney) is a lot faster than I am. I'm still fast. His 40 is a lot faster than mine. I'd even say his first step is faster than mine. I think the only thing that separates us is the 40 and stuff like that."
Wilder continues to prove himself
So do people still think Wilder has to play linebacker to be successful in college? The Tampa (Fla.) Plant recruit said after his performance that he's probably finally proven to his critics that he'll be successful in Florida State's backfield.
Rivals.com rates the 6-foot-2, 219-pound five-star prospect as the top-rated athlete, ninth nationally and third in the Florida state rankings. Other schools recruited Wilder to play defense but he made it no secret he wants to play offense in college.
"This is a big step for me," Wilder said.
"Everybody is saying because of my size that I'm not a running back and I'm too slow, not quick enough, but coming out here the second-to-last drive that was my chance to prove to the nation that I can play running back at the next level."