KINGSVILLE Ė In front of over 6,000 fans, the East and West all-star teams put on quite a show in the 2009 Valero Cactus Bowl. The back-and-forth affair featured five lead changes and came down to the final moments when the East missed a potential game-winning 34-yard field goal with three seconds to play and the West won 28-27 to snap a three-game losing streak.
East kicker Tom Schneider (North Alabama) had made his four previous field goals to put his team in position to win the game, but his last second effort missed by inches to the right. The four field goals were a new Cactus Bowl record.
The East received their final opportunity at the victory when they stopped the West offense inside the West 10-yard line and forced a punt with 1:41 remaining. Rather than risk a bad punt into the 15 mile per hour wind or a block, the West elected to take a safety.
Steven Jacksonís (Fort Valley State) 21-yard kick return to the West 49-yard line gave the East good field position. Corey Russell (Tusculum) completed four straight passes to set up the field goal opportunity.
Texas A&M-Kingsvilleís two representatives to the Cactus Bowl West squad, Jabir Perkins and Jareko Taylor, each had strong performances. Perkins, a safety, had four solo tackles and six total to go along with 55 yards on three kick off returns. Taylor, a wide receiver, had four catches for 32 yards. Two his catches came on the teamís final two scoring drives.
West quarterback Keith Null (West Texas A&M) was the Offensive MVP of the game as he passed for 240 yards and three touchdowns while completing a Cactus Bowl record 19 passes on 27 attempts. Nullís 2-yard touchdown pass to Todd Burkoth (Winona State) with 4:20 remaining in the game proved to be the deciding points of the contest.
The West offense was led by tight end Zach Millerís (Nebraska-Omaha) five catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. Charly Martin (West Texas A&M) and Marques Nelson (Pittsburg State) each added touchdown receptions.
The West defense was led by Defensive MVP outside linebacker Jeff Souder (Nebraska-Omaha) who had seven tackles and a pass break up. Gregory Toler (St. Paulís College) had one interception that he returned for a Cactus Bowl record 44 yards.
The East offense was led by Garrett Manningís (Henderson State) record-tying seven receptions for 122 yards. The passing was split between Mike McCabe (California) who went 10-of-20 for 156 yards and Russell went 11-for-20 for 101 yards and a touchdown.
- Staff Report