Jarrett Lee nearly got his comeback.
The LSU quarterback, who never got off the bench in the national championship game as the Tigers were shutout by Alabama, directed his team on a late touchdown drive at the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game at Kino Stadium on Monday night.
He was then upstaged by San Jose State quarterback Matt Faulkner and a Division II wide receiver who once led Kansas State in rushing.
Lee’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Rich Rossi of Sacred Heart University with 3:36 left gave the Stars (East) team a 21-17 lead. The Stripes (West) came back with a 17-play drive.
On fourth-and-10, Faulkner hit LaMark Brown for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left. That gave the West a 24-21 victory in the first Casino Del Sol All-Star game.
The Stripes celebrated as a team would any big victory. Former Arizona teammates Robert Golden and Paul Vassallo grabbed the cooler of ice water and dumped it on unsuspecting head coach Pat Hill as the clock ticked off its final seconds.
“I thought the kids played their hearts out,” Hill said. “I’m glad we put the two-minute offense in on Saturday. Matt handled it very well.”
The Stripes sealed the victory when Kevin Goessling’s squib kick deflected off the foot of one of the lead blockers, recovered by Boise State’s Aaron Tevis, a Canyon del Oro High School grad.
“The plan was just to squib kick it, but I guess the kicker’s plan was to hit it off a guy,” Tevis said. “He didn’t tell any of us that. I saw the ball in front of me and jumped on it.”
Faulkner, playing more than any of the other five quarterbacks in the game, was 24 of 44 for 234 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought the execution of our offense was pretty good for three days of practice and two days of walk-through,” Hill said. “That’s as good an all-star game as I’ve been around as far as competition and execution.”
Lee was effective, completing 13 of 18 passes for 176 yards and two scores. The game’s leading rusher was Lance Dunbar of North Texas, who carried 10 times for 59 yards.
Brown was the game’s leading receiver with eight catches for 85 yards, earning offensive MVP honors. He played one season at Minnesota State after transferring from Kansas State. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he looked like one of the players most physically ready for the NFL.
“It’s the greatest experience every time it happens,” Brown said of the catching the game-winner. “I knew I had to catch it because it was the end of the game.”