BIDDEFORD — For four and a half minutes, the East had all the momentum to be found in the 23rd annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl. It took the East just six plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Then, five plays into the West’s first possession, Skowhegan’s Ethan Johnson intercepted a pass, giving the East the ball right back.

Momentum is fickle, though, and after too many East turnovers and a strong pass rush from the West’s defensive line, it shifted. The West closed the first half by scoring 20 unanswered points and left Waterhouse Field with a 48-24 win.

The win was the second straight for the West, which now leads the series 17-6. Players, cheerleaders and coaches raised more than $73,000 for Shriner’s Hospitals.

Spencer Cooke of Cheverus was named the West’s Most Valuable Player, running for 113 yards and a 36-yard touchdown with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left to seal the game. Messalonskee wide receiver Sam Dexter was the East MVP, catching eight passes for 87 yards, including an 18-yard pass from Leavitt’s Jordan Hersom to stake the East to an 8-0 lead.

“We came out fast out of the gates,” Dexter said. “We had a lot of momentum early, we just had some turnovers that killed our momentum and killed drives.”

The East committed seven turnovers, including four in the first half that helped lead to a West touchdown. The West also had six sacks and kept East quarterbacks Hersom and Deven Romain (John Bapst) from getting comfortable in the pocket.

“We’re all the best, but they weren’t picking up their blocks,” said Maranacook defensive end Luke Emery, who was in on two West sacks.

The West pulled within two points when Cheverus quarterback Cam Olson scrambled for an 8-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. After Lewiston’s Jeff Turcotte scored on a 1-yard run and Max Andrews (John Bapst) caught the conversion pass from Hersom, the East had a 16-6 lead with 13:25 left in the first half.

It took the West less than two minutes to answer. Scarborough’s Scott Thibeault capped a five-play, 43-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Olson ran in the conversion to cut the East’s lead to 16-14.

The West took the lead for good with eight minutes left in the first half. Troy Pappas of Marshwood caught a 26-yard pass from Wells quarterback Paul McDonough. With 2:23 left in the second quarter, McDonough found a wide-open Matthew Burnell for a 51-yard touchdown pass and a 26-16 halftime lead.

The East’s early success was motivation for the West defense, Emery said.

“We just kept at it,” Emery said. “Our defensive line worked hard all week and it showed.”

The West capitalized on another East turnover early in the third quarter. After holding the West to a three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, the East fumbled the punt. Cooke recovered the ball at the East 46, and Olson threw a 44-yard pass to Bonny Eagle’s Cam Cooper on the next play. After a false start and a loss of 2 yards on first down, Olson connected with Cooper for a 9-yard touchdown and the West’s lead was 32-16.

Brewer’s Anthony Jackson pulled the East to within a touchdown with 17.1 seconds left in the third quarter, and Turcotte ran in the conversion to make it 32-24. The West answered three minutes into the fourth when McDonough scored on a 1-yard run.

The East lost a pair of interceptions deep in West territory in the final eight minutes, including one in the end zone by Dirigo’s Jacob Dowland with just over a minute remaining.

The West had five turnovers, but just one in the second half as it went to the run game to kill time. Olson ran for 64 yards for the West. Burnell had five catches for 100 yards.

Johnson had two interceptions for the East and Nokomis’ Cody Pelletier added a pick for the East.

Shaun Carroll of Lawrence had five carries for 23 yards for the East. Gardiner’s Alonzo Connor had 10 carries for 26 yards and had a 26-yard reception.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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