WACO — Sparked by Lampasas graduates Bobby Joe Nielsen and Gary Spencer, the Blue Team earned a 21-16 win over the Red Team in the sixth annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl All-Star Game on Saturday.
The contest was played at the Waco ISD Sports Complex.
“Our coaches had told us that we were here to have fun — but also that we were gonna win,” Spencer said. “And that’s what we did.”
Unofficially, Spencer rushed seven times for 60 yards, including a critical 36-yard, fourth-quarter, first-down romp.
Playing cornerback, Nielsen knocked down several deep balls and made the biggest defensive play of the contest — a touchdown-saving interception just four minutes into the game.
“I had my eye on that ball the whole way,” Nielsen said. “I thought, ‘I’m not letting this slip through my hands.’ ”
“I saw that Bobby Joe had it
the whole way,” Spencer said. “It was a huge pick.”
In front of a police-estimated crowd of 3,500, both all-star teams played well. Each squad, made up of only graduated seniors, held several practices during the week.
Shoemaker’s Channon Hall was the Red Team’s head coach.
“I’m glad this football game turned out to be so competitive,” Hall said. “It was a very good game. It was a fun game to coach, too. You get to work with seniors, mature guys. They want to learn. They picked things up fast.”
The Blue Team led 14-7 at halftime, and scored early in the third quarter to extend that lead to 21-7.
With 2:29 left in the third quarter, Copperas Cove Bulldawg defensive back Jamel “J.D.” Post, playing for the Red Team, blitzed, causing a safety and the deficit was cut to 21-9.
“We knew J.D. was capable of making big plays for us,” Hall said. “(Reicher) Coach (Mark) Waggoner called blitz and J.D. came through there with the big play.”
“I just wanted to play really competitive the whole game,” Post said. “I know this is an FCA thing, but it’s still football.”
This being an all-star contest, playing time, in fairness to all the participating players, needed to be split.
But it should be noted that when Post and two Grey Wolves, Antonio Mims and Ziere Banner, were roaming the defensive backfield for the Red Team, there wasn’t a whole lot of aerial yards gained.
“It was so much fun for me to play with those two guys,” Post said. “I thought it would be a little hectic but we grooved together so well. Our secondary pulled it together and had a great game.”
With 4:45 left in the contest, still ahead 21-9, Spencer took a handoff, darted left, right, then left and wasn’t brought down until he’d gained 36 yards. The first-down carry allowed the Blue Team to chew up another two minutes of clock.
Of his big carry, Spencer said, “I almost made it all the way. I thought I had broken free completely but everyone here is so good and knows what to do. I have to give credit to my offensive linemen for that play.”
One of those linemen was Florence right tackle Christian Gomez.
“It sure is nice having a running back behind you as talented as Gary is,” said Gomez, who has committed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. “Gary runs so fast, it’s like you’re just hearing a whistling sound go by you.”
The compliment was returned.
“Christian Gomez was the leader of our line,” Spencer said. “He played very well tonight.”
The Red Team drove 59 yards in a two-minute, 41-second, nine play scoring drive – one of those plays a first-down reception made by Gatesville’s Jake Kee — and cut the lead to 21-16. But the Blue Team recovered the onside kick and sealed the win.
“This whole experience was great,” Spencer said. “It was an honor to be in a contest with all these great players.”