LAUREL — Tanner Roderick did a little bit of everything Saturday night.
But even his performance couldn’t match that of a relentless defense.
The West all-stars blitzed, stunted and bulled their way to a 24-3 victory at the 65th annual Shrine Game at the LHS Sports Complex.
Though the East still leads the all-time series 36-29, the win was the West’s third in a row — and this one was dominant.
“Our defense is so fast. Those D-linemen are so good,” said linebacker Sean Blomquist of Helena High. “Jesse Ginn, Marc Evans, David Meis ... they created so much pressure. They gave us all a chance to make plays.”
Blomquist was named his team’s defensive MVP, adding to the MVP award he won at the Badlands Bowl last month.
The West had six sacks and even more tackles for loss, making life difficult on quarterbacks Cole Moller and Chase White. Beyond that, it stifled the ground game, limiting the East to just two yards on 35 attempts.
Helena’s Meis had a pair of sacks for the West. Teammates Levi Cade (Belgrade), Heath Hunter (Bozeman), Matthew Merenz (Dillon) and Boyce Ballard (Kalispell Glacier) also dumped the quarterback.
“It starts with the D-linemen, I like to say,” said Meis, a defensive end. “My trick is speed rushing: Get to the quarterback before he throws it.”
Roderick led the West with 107 yards passing and 48 yards rushing — and even had a 62-yard punt that pinned the East on its 3-yard line in the third quarter.
But the Bozeman standout’s biggest play came when he connected with Butte Central’s Phil Antonioli with a 56-yard bomb down the far sideline to give the West a 9-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Prior to that, the East all-stars gave the West a two-point gift when a snap sailed over the head of punter Ethan Albrecht and out of the end zone for a safety.
Roderick helped set up another touchdown in the third quarter when he spun, dodged, and skipped around heavy defensive pressure to get the ball near the goal line on a spectacular third-down play.
The University of Nevada-bound Roderick handed the ball to his Bozeman classmate, Justin Pierson, for a 1-yard score on the next play as the West snared a 17-3 lead.
Though Billings Central’s Moller completed 10 of 13 passes for 103 yards, he and Shelby’s White were too busy trying to escape a pack of hungry defenders for most of the night.
The East didn’t get a first down until White hit Cut Bank’s Brock Calvi on a screen pass that went for 10 yards early in the second quarter.
The East’s only points came when Great Falls High’s Trevor Bolton drilled a 32-yard field goal with 6:45 left before halftime.
“They’re just big and fast and good,” Moller said with a what-can-you-do laugh. “They were flying around and giving us trouble. My guys were fighting hard, but they just got really good pressure.”
“Wow. They did an excellent job,” said Bozeman’s Troy Purcell, the West’s head coach. “There were 11 tough defensive players out there, and a very good scheme.”
The West capped the scoring when Nate Thompson of Columbia Falls took a handoff and sprinted 12 yards untouched for a fourth-quarter touchdown. That came just one play after the East came up empty on a fake punt.
The West rushed for 112 yards on 35 carries.
The East forced three turnovers but could not capitalize.
Billings West linebacker Sesar Bonilla recovered a fumble late in the first quarter, while Zach Gratton and Connor Lebsock, safeties from Billings Senior and Billings Skyview, made interceptions to kill drives.
Moller earned the East’s offensive MVP nod, while Billings West defensive lineman Dylan Donahue took home the defensive honor.
Roderick, who probably would have had two more touchdown passes if not for drops, earned the West’s offensive MVP award.
NOTES: Great Falls High’s Jake Olson led all receivers with 102 yards on six catches for the East. ... Josh Brenneman, a defensive back from Hamilton, intercepted White in the fourth quarter for the West’s only takeaway. ... Pierson finished with 38 rushing yards, while the East was led on the ground by Choteau’s Adam DeBruyker, who had 18 yards.
West 24, East 3
West 9 0 8 7 — 24
East 0 3 0 0 — 3
West — Safety (snap out of end zone), 8:59
West — Phil Antonioli 56 pass from Tanner Roderick (Matt Berg kick), 4:02
East — Trevor Bolton 32 field goal, 6:45
West — Justin Pierson 1 run (Roderick run), 7:08
West — Nate Thompson 12 run (Berg kick), 6:53
Rushing — West: Tanner Roderick 14-48, Justin Pierson 12-38, Nate Thompson 7-31, Joshuah Brenneman 1-4, Logan Connors 1-1. East: Adam DeBruycker 14-18, Brock Calvi 6-25, Ryan Guelff 2-0, Cole Moller 6 (-18), Tyler Molyneax 1-(-2), Ethan Albrecht 3-2, Chase White 3-(-17).
Passing — West: Tanner Roderick 6-14-1 107, Matt Berg 2-7-0 22, Logan Connors 0-2-0. East: Cole Moller 10-13-0 103, Chase White 7-14-1 73.
Receiving — West: Nate Hinrichs 3-32, Philip Antonioli 1-56, Jonathan Richards 1-29, Trevor Shellenberg 1-13, Michael Duncan 1-4, Travis Knoll 1-4. East: Jake Olson 6-102, Ryan Guelff 4-22, Bo Descheemaeker 2-15, Chase White 1-12, Brock Calvi 1-10, Danny Desin 1-7, Johnny Nielsen 1-7.