SAN ANTONIO - Army All-American East squad assistant coach Terry Smith said he was in wide receiver heaven this week. His group sure played gloriously Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Three wide receivers each caught a touchdown pass from three different quarterbacks as the East team defeated the West, 33-23. Notre Dame commit John Goodman was the only East receiver with more than one catch. Goodman had two, and one was a 25-yard touchdown reception from Terrelle Pryor with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 26-17.
Jonathan Baldwin's only catch was a 46-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second quarter to put the East ahead, 14-7. Baldwin, a 6-foot-6 Pittsburgh commit who battled a groin jury all week, got higher than the cornerback on a bomb from Alabama quarterback commit Star Jackson and took it into the end zone.
The East's third touchdown was caught by DeAndre Brown, also his only catch, on a 14-yard fade thrown by Minnesota commit MarQueis Gray with 7 seconds left in the first half. That touchdown gave the East a 20-10 lead at the break.
"I had a great group of guys and they were very tall and athletic and it showed with three touchdown passes," said Smith, the coach at Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway. "That was the parity we had. We didn't have a starting group of receivers. They were all just equally as good.
"(Baldwin is) a great athlete. You throw a bomb like that and he just goes up and makes a great play on the football and finishes it. I was in my heaven this week. I wish I could take one of these guys back with me. They were all athletic, fast and can play."
Baldwin and Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams tied for the team lead with 46 receiving yards. Williams' 46-yard catch came on a dump pass from Pryor on the East's first drive. It helped set up Pryor's 6-yard touchdown run with 6:21 left, the game's first score.
Pryor, who was named MVP, finished 4 of 6 passing for 76 yards and a touchdown. He also had 79 rushing yards on 10 carries, both game highs, and a score. The Jeannette (Pa.) quarterback said after the game Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, Oregon and Penn State are still involved in his recruitment.
"When my number was called I did what I could," Baldwin said. "It was an honor to play with them. I told everybody it was an honor to play with them and they said the same about me. I enjoyed it all week."
Defense focused on stopping run
Darrell Scott, the nation's No. 1 running back, finished with eight yards on three carries. Michigan commit Sam McGuffie had a team-high 40 yards on three attempts and 38 came on a run in the fourth quarter.
The East's goal was to shut down the running attack. Mission accomplished.
"The kids did exceptionally well," assistant coach Troy Davis said. "It's hard coming into a bowl like this with a bunch of All-American kids to make sure you get the right rotation in. They responded really well. They played hard.
"I was worried about the run with Darrell Scott. We really emphasized that. We had to give something up which was the passing game. If you're going to beat us they were going to have to beat us deep."
Miami linebacker commit Arthur Brown tied a game-high with six tackles. Michigan safety commit Brandon Smith and LSU cornerback pledge Patrick Johnson each had five stops. Defensive end Quinton Coples had the East's only sack. The East out-gained the West, 405-245, in total yards.
"(Brown) is phenomenal," Davis said. "His first step, his instincts. He played sideline to sideline. That's a great group and I'm honored to be a part of it."
Said Brown: "I came here with the mindset to try my best and do what I can. I didn't over-pursue like I usually do. We had a lot of other great players out there that could make plays We came in as a team really thinking they would feed Darrell Scott the ball. We wanted to force them to pass the ball and we did really well."