BIDDEFORD — Lest anyone forget, while the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic is a charity event – and a good one at that, raising over $370,000 in 21 years for the 22 Shriners Children’s Hospitals and Burn Centers across North America – it is still a football game.

And thus, those who win will celebrate, as the East did for the fourth time in the last five years.
Lonnie Hackett of Bangor rushed for 160 yards and East quarterbacks Eric Theiss of Leavitt and Ronald Turner of

Lewiston threw for five touchdowns as the East rallied in the fourth quarter for a wild 40-35 victory over the West at steamy Waterhouse Field.

The East scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to come back from a nine-point deficit. Hackett had the clinching score, a 34-yard burst untouched up the middle with 2:19 remaining.

“Everyone says this is just an all-star game and we’re here to have fun,’’ said Hackett. “But no one treats it like that. We treated it as a mission that we were going to go out and win.’’

It was a spectacular show by the players, who graduated from Maine high schools this year.

Theiss threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns. Turner threw for two touchdowns and 160 yards.

Rashad Edgerton of Brunswick caught only two passes – both for touchdowns of 30 (which he punctuated with a front flip into the end zone) and 25 yards. Nolan Turner of Hampden Academy caught seven passes for 180 yards, including a stunning 73-yard scoring strike from Theiss.

For the West, Jackson Taylor of Windham completed 16 of 25 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Three West runners –  Steve Trask of Thornton Academy, Ryan Curit of South Portland and Tom Foden of Cape Elizabeth – ran for at least 50 yards.

“It was still a great experience, even though we lost,’’ said Trask, who scored on a 29-yard run in the second quarter. “I met a lot of kids from a lot of different teams. It was fun.’’

Taylor, who will join Edgerton in Orono in the fall on the University of Maine’s football team, said the outcome was disappointing but was also secondary to the cause.

“It was an honor to be part of this,’’ he said. “Actually it was more than an honor, it was a privilege. This is definitely more than a game.’’

The West used a stout defense – three times turning back the East inside the 20 in the first half – to build a 29-20 lead entering the fourth quarter. There, Hackett began finding seams in the West’s defensive front and the East went to work.

“When the heat started to get people down, that’s when Lonnie Hackett stepped up,’’ said East Coach Bill County.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Edgerton caught his second touchdown pass of the game from Theiss, a 25-yarder. Josh Gaudette’s PAT kick made it 29-27, with the West in the lead.

The East forced a three-and-out punt, then Turner led the East on a 67-yard drive that culminated in a 16-yard scoring pass to Will Wetherbee of John Bapst. The conversion pass failed but the East led 33-29 with 11:02 remaining.

The West was stymied on its next two drives, and then Hackett put the game away. His 34-yard romp up the middle made it 40-29 with 2:19 left. Taylor led the West on a final drive, with Curit getting his second touchdown of the game, a 3-yard run with 1:34 left, but the East recovered the ensuing onside kick.

“We kept our composure in the second half and were able to capitalize on our defense,’’ said Edgerton. “I’m very happy we won the game.

“It’s good to end my high school career on a winning note, to represent Brunswick one last time.’’

The West, which won the first nine Lobster Bowls beginning in 1990, leads the series 15-6.

“As the game went on, I think our defense got worn down because they were on the field a lot in the second half,’’ said West Coach Kevin Cooper.

“They had some skilled players. And any time you have a game like this, it comes down to whose skill players made the most plays. And there’s no question, the East’s skill players made more plays.’’

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]