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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Football: UH’s Alridge puts on show for local crowd

A star-studded East-West Shrine Game crowd filed into Robertson Stadium on Saturday night and watched the West team take a 31-13 win over the East squad.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Houston Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones and former Kansas City Chiefs/Baltimore Ravens running back Priest Holmes were some of the players that turned out to watch the game.

Some emerging stars shone throughout the game, especially on the West team.

San Diego dual-threat quarterback John Johnson put on quite a show, making plays with his arm as well as his feet. He completed 5-of-11 passing for 78 yards and a touchdown, but it was his quick feet that did most of the work.

The fast quarterback looked extremely impressive as he blew past defenders on his three carries, leading all players with 91 yards rushing and averaging more than 30 yards per carry. Johnson’s performance earned him the William M. Coffman Award for best offensive player.

"At times they gave me passes and at times they gave (me) the runs," Johnson said. "(I got in) a couple of scrambles when they took away the check downs, and that’s when they forgot about me.

"I just took what they gave me, played within the offense and just made plays when we had to and gave my teammates opportunities to make plays."

The first touchdown of the game came on a 72-yard punt return from Utah State wide receiver Kevin Robinson, giving the West a 7-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Robinson looked impressive all game, racking up 129 all-purpose yards. He may show some similarities to Jones because of the speed and size he possesses, but he said he just plays the game his way.

"Everybody has their own style of game," Robinson said. "We just go out there and try and do the best we can, and I just felt like today I was very lucky. I got my chances to score and that’s all you can pray for."

The night’s most defining moment didn’t come on the field. During an East possession in the fourth quarter, UH senior running back Anthony "Quick Six" Alridge left the game for a few minutes and chatted with some of the Shriners and children from the Shriners Hospitals for Children who were in attendance.

"(The kids) taught me a lot," Alridge said. "I’m privileged to have my legs and my limbs and not be burned. Going to the hospital, it meant a lot to me. I’m just blessed to be in the position to be where I am, and I’m going to give back to the Shriners. Whenever I make it, I’m always going to give back."

Arizona linebacker Spencer Larsen took home the E. Jack Spaulding Award for best defensive player. He finished with four tackles and an interception.

One of the most impressive players for the East was Boston College linebacker Jamie Silva. He recorded a game-high six tackles and displayed tremendous speed.

Alridge put on quite a show, on and off the field. "Quick Six" was mic’ed up for ESPN2’s live coverage, and he didn’t hold back.

"It’s all about fun when you’re playing a football game," Alridge said. "I tried to give a good show. They had me mic’ed up so I was talking a little bit more than I would in a normal game, but since this is an all-star game I tried to get out there and have fun."

Alridge showed his big play ability when he caught a ball that was underthrown and behind him for 28 yards. Alridge may not have impressed the scouts much with his numbers – four rushes for eight yards – but Alridge scored a crucial touchdown to put the West up 17-3 and sealed the game for his squad.

"It was fun. I just tried to get in the end zone and tried to do what I do for the University of Houston fans," Alridge said. "I appreciate all the fans that came out and supported me. I did it for (them)."

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