Credit: Stock image | Pixabay

The underdog East squad used big plays to break open a first-half defensive struggle and go on to a 40-14 victory over the West in the 29th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic football all-star game at Hill Stadium in Saco on Saturday.

The win was the fourth for the East in the last six games of the series, which benefits the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The West holds a comfortable 19-10 overall lead in the series.

Austin Pelletier of Messalonskee of Oakland was the East’s offensive MVP with 116 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushes, while backfield mate Grant Poussard of Lewiston rushed for 106 yards and a score on eight attempts.

Braden Ballard of Lawrence of Fairfield passed for two touchdowns, and fellow East quarterback Grant Hartley of Edward Little of Auburn added a third touchdown strike.

The East scored the only touchdown of the first half when Ballard passed 56 yards to Jordan Roddy of Cony of Augusta with 9:15 left in the second quarter to make it 6-0.

Ballard struck again on the East’s first play from scrimmage after intermission with a 84-yard scoring strike to Skowhegan’s Jon Bell as the lead grew to 12-0.

Pelletier then scored on a 42-yard run, and Winslow’s Ryan Fredette added the two-point conversion run to extend the East advantage to 20-0 before Falmouth quarterback Jack Bryant scored on a 4-yard touchdown run for the West with 1:07 left in the third quarter.

The East extended its lead to 33-7 as Hartley connected with Jack Freeman of Oceanside High School in Rockland with a 14-yard touchdown pass, and Poussard added his team’s second rushing touchdown of the game from 3 yards out.

Madison-Carrabec’s Sean Whalen caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Bryant to cut the West’s deficit to 33-14 before Portland defensive back Vinnie Pasquali — the East’s defensive MVP — closed out the scoring by returning a pass interception 48 yards for a touchdown.

The West got its offense rolling on its opening drive — until it came to a screeching halt in East territory. An incomplete pass, negative-yardage run and a 5-yard penalty pushed the West from the East 33-yard-line to the 50.

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