East downs West 12-9 at East-West Bowl

LONDON — The East defeated the West 12-9 on May 8 in the East-West Bowl presented by Under Armour at TD Waterhouse Stadium in London. In a true battle of the titans, the best football players of the Canadian Interuniversity Sports competed against each other, combating weather including high winds, rain and snow that made the game feel more like a November playoff game than a spring all-star game.

The East edged their way onto the scoreboard within seconds taking a 1-0 lead as a result of Laval University’s Christopher Milo’s kickoff. Minutes later Milo contributed a 37 yard field goal extending the East’s lead to 4-0. Despite the West’s strong defense from Western MustangJohn Surla (Niagara Falls, Ont.) and Guelph Gryphon James Savoie, the first quarter ended with the East extending their lead to 6-0 on a safety.

At the beginning of the second quarter the West lit up the scoreboard and took the lead with a touchdown by Saskatchewan’s Braedan George as a result of a 19 yard pass from Regina quarterback Marc Mueller. The lead was short-lived however, as Milo kicked an 18-yard field goal to retake the East’s lead 9-7 at half.

In the third quarter the wind picked up as a mixture of snow and rain fell on the players. The elements were no match for Milo as he successfully kicked his third field goal on three attempts. This was his most impressive one of the day, a 41-yard field goal to give the East a 12-7 lead. A series of fumbles and incomplete passes occupied a portion of the third quarter, highlighted by a leaping one-handed interception in the endzone by East defensive back Willie Sharpe’s. The East conceded a safety allowed the score to be tightened to 12-9 at the end of the third quarter.

Although the fourth quarter saw no scoring both the East and the West performed well both offensively and defensively. McGill Redman Courtney Bishop contributed a sack on the West’s Regina quarterback Marc Mueller. Surla had a key tackle forcing an East fumble quickly recovered by the West’s Guelph Gryphon Jedd Gardner. The West’s incomplete field goal by Alberta kicker Hugh O’Neill ended the fourth quarter and allowed the East to take the game 12-9.

Although the wind, rain and snow presented unexpected obstacles for May football, East team kicker Milo had an outstanding performance, going 3/3 on field goal attempts as well as adding a rouge.

“The snaps were just taking off and tough to handle in this wind” said Milo, “the winds were just taking over. On the 41 yard field goal drove my leg in a bit more and luckily the wind died down right before I kicked it”.

The East West Bowl presented by Under Armour has showcased many players drafted to the Canadian Football League and National Football League including San Diego Charger Vaughn Martin and recent CFL draftee kicker Rob Maver. The East West Bowl provides an important chance for the players to showcase themselves to CFL and NFL scouts, not only during the all-star game, but during the intense week of practices, training, and evaluations.

“It is an essential step in the process of getting your name out there. It is so important to play well and showcase here” said Surla, who did not let the weather effect his game as he led the West defensively with 9.5 total tackles.

Western Mustang Josh Buttrill, a late addition to the West roster, felt the honor and benefits of playing with the best and in front of scouts is immeasurable. “Participating in this is so beneficial because it not only gives you a chance to play in the off season, but it shows you where you have to be in comparison to everyone else if you want to make it professionally” said Butrill.

Despite the weather, the eighth annual East West Bowl presented by Under Armour was a successful showcase for these players for the 2011 CFL Draft.

Photo by Jeff Chan

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