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BLOOMINGTON — It was definitely a play worthy of the forthcoming Most Valuable Defensive Player award.

Alek Bundy's 102-yard return of an interception wasn't just spectacular.

It also came at a pivotal moment and was of vital help to the East squad in its 36-26 win over the West in the Illinois Coaches Association Shrine Football Game on Saturday at Tucci Stadium.

In an entertaining and well-played back-and-forth tussle in the rain between teams that refused to give in, the West was leading 20-15 and had driven the length of the field, hoping to put the East down by two scores early in the fourth quarter. 

Enter Bundy, a Monticello product, to pick off a pass in the end zone and return it the distance to not only snuff out the West drive, but to put the East back on top.

"We were in man coverage and there was nobody for me to really guard in the backfield," Bundy said. "I was kind of free in the middle. I read the quarterback's eyes and saw the ball go up and I knew I had to go get it and see what I could do with it."

Following a blocker for much of the distance, Bundy eventually left everyone in his wake. 

"I had a linebacker up there with me trying to keep up and I was just trying to get in the end zone as fast as I could," he said.

Bundy's score provided the game's fifth lead change. There would be two more in the final nine minutes before the East was finally able to secure the victory.

It was also the second time the East defense had thwarted the West at the goal line.

A fumble recovery by the East in the end zone stopped a West drive on the game's opening possession and was instrumental in the East holding a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

El Paso-Gridley's Ryan Faulk was also instrumental in the 55-yard scoring drive that put the East on top. He chewed up 27 of the 55 yards on the ground before Bundy's Monticello teammate, quarterback Braden Snyder, capped the drive with a 20-yard TD run.

"The linemen here are just huge dudes and they were getting some big pushes in that first half," said Faulk, who would add 20 more rushing yards in the second half.

"On one of the runs, I hadn't seen a hole like that in a while. I got the ball and saw nothing but open field, no one in front of me. Every running back loves to see that."

The West would pull even on the first possession of the second quarter when a fake punt on fourth down paved the way for a 39-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Britton Morris to James Mautino.

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Some fancy footwork by Normal Community's Daylen Boddie on the ensuing possession would put the East back on top at 12-6.

Facing a fourth-and-one from the West 28-yard line, Boddie took the snap, bounced to the outside and cruised to the end zone.

"There was good blocking for me up front and I had a receiver blocking to make a lane for me," Boddie said. "I just used my feet to get the touchdown."

With a pattern being established for the remainder of the game, the lead would be short-lived.

The West grabbed a 14-12 halftime advantage when Monmouth-Roseville's Jamonny Skinner was left wide open on the left sideline to grab a pass from Washington's Caleb Fisher and scoot 66 yards for the go-ahead score.

To open the third quarter, Tuscola's Cade Kresin had a 27-yard field goal attempt blocked by Kyle Little of Morris, but was able to put the East back on top 15-14 when allowed a do-over because of a penalty.

A 26-yard touchdown pass from Riley Fetterer of Rockridge to Moline's Treyton Lamphier would then give West the lead once more before Bundy's pick-six provided a momentum shift.

Even the momentum was short-lived.

The West immediately answered with an 80-yard scoring drive that took only 1:40 to retake the lead before the East bounced back with a 47-yard touchdown run by Argenta-Oreana's Makhi Stanley to grab a 30-26 advantage.

A big interception by Fenwick's Max Forst stymied a West drive into East territory on the next possession.

With the East taking over with 2:28 remaining, it was able to burn all but the final 7.4 seconds.

On the final play, the East's Tryvis Ousley of Chicago Westinghouse picked up a West fumble and returned it 40 yards for a TD. He was untouched until the entire East sideline joined him in the end zone for a celebration.


Photos: The 45th Illinois High School Shrine Game

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Contact Bruce Yentes at (309) 820-3391. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_yentes

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