Benny LeMay Wins Offensive MVP as East Beats West 31-27 in 2020 Shrine Bowl

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2020

East running back Benny LeMay, of Charlotte, (32) gets past West safety David Dowell, of Michigan State, (36) on a run during the first half of the East West Shrine football game Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

The East All-Stars defeated the West All-Stars 31-27 Saturday in the 2020 East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Charlotte running back Benny LeMay was named the offensive MVP with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, including the game-winning score with 1:52 remaining. Illinois State safety Luther Kirk earned defensive MVP honors with the contest's only interception.

While the East-West Shrine Game is often viewed as a secondary All-Star showcase behind the Senior Bowl, many big-name NFL players used a strong Shrine Game performance to improve their draft stock.

Some of the top players to parlay an East-West Shrine Game appearance into NFL success since 2000 include San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Green Bay Packers pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith and former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, all of whom were game MVPs.

            

Notable Stats

James Morgan, QB, FIU (East): 9-of-14 for 116 YDS, 1 TD

Benny LeMay, RB, Charlotte (East): 16 CAR for 80 YDS, 2 TD

Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina (East): 5 CAR for 50 YDS

Adrian Killins Jr., RB, UCF (East): 7 REC for 91 YDS

Malcolm Perry, WR, Navy (East): 1 CAR for 52 YDS, 1 TD

Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah (West): 6-of-8 for 47 YDS, 1 TD; 7 CAR for 45 YDS

James Robinson, RB, Illinois State (West): 7 CAR for 80 YDS, 1 TD; 2 REC for 56 YDS

Binjimen Victor, WR, Ohio State (West): 2 REC for 50 YDS, 1 TD

        

LeMay, Robinson, Running Game Dominate East-West Shrine Game

In a contest that saw the teams combine for a Shrine Game record 853 total yards, it was the running game that took center stage Saturday.

It won't be easy for running backs from small schools to get noticed in a draft that includes Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins, Georgia's D'Andre Swift and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, but LeMay did his best to put himself on the map.

Along with a game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining, the Charlotte product scored from 10 yards out in the first quarter, which underscored his ability to produce from start to finish:

Yahoo Sports NFL draft expert Eric Edholm was among those who liked what they saw out of LeMay:

LeMay wasn't the only runner to stand out, though, as both Malcolm Perry and James Robinson had long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.

Perry, who played quarterback at Navy but worked out as a wide receiver this week, was the first to strike when he faked a pitch out of the Wildcat formation and ran 52 yards for a score to help put the East on top 24-20:

While Perry almost certainly won't be a quarterback in the NFL, he showed off his versatility Saturday and could turn out to be a useful gadget player.

Illinois State's Robinson answered soon after with a 63-yard touchdown run to put the West back on top:

That made up the chunk of Robinson's 80 rushing yards on the day, but he also had 56 receiving yards, including a 46-yard gain on a screen, which helped him show NFL teams that he can beat the opposition in myriad ways.

Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report said Robinson opened his eyes this week by showing better-than-expected speed:

Robinson's touchdown was later canceled out by LeMay's second score of the day, but it can be argued that no player in the East-West Shrine Game did more to help his NFL draft stock than Robinson.

There was some suspect quarterback play and not many defensive standouts, but one thing that is clear regarding the 2020 NFL draft is that there is no shortage of rushers capable of making an impact.     

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