GREAT FALLS — The 72nd annual Montana East-West Shrine Game on Saturday night came down to the right foot of Westby-Grenora’s Jeremiah Paine. Paine drilled a 23-yard field goal with three minutes remaining to give the East a 24-21 lead they would not relinquish.
After driving the length of the field after a goal-line stand, the East faced a fourth down inside the West 10-yard line. East head coach Levi Wesche opted for Paine to attempt the go-ahead kick, which the future Dickinson State kicker drilled through the uprights.
“We knew if it came down to a field goal, (Paine) would be able to knock that down,” East tight end and former Sunburst standout Treyton Pickering said. “I’m really happy for him. Class C guy, so he’s got to represent a little bit.”
The East got the scoring started when former Great Falls CMR quarterback Garrison Rothwell avoided a sack in the backfield and fired across the middle to Pickering, the future Montana State tight end. The West got a pair of scoring tosses from future Montana State Bobcat Kaleb Winterburn, as he found Hamilton’s Tyler Chouinard for back-to-back touchdowns to give the West a halftime lead.
But Rothwell and the East came right back. Trailing 14-7 at halftime, Rothwell opened up the third with an 80-yard scoring strike to Billings Senior’s Ben LeBeau. After Austin Green found Conor McCarvel in the back of the end zone to put the West up 21-14, Rothwell answered with his third touchdown pass of the game — a 17-yard strike to Pickering.
Rothwell threw for three touchdowns on his way to the overall MVP award.
“Just a great experience. To be able to be an MVP, it’s just an honor,” Rothwell said.
Pickering was named the offensive MVP for the East, while teammate Sawyor Thorgersen of Sidney was the defensive MVP. For the West, Helena High quarterback and future Montana State Bobcat Kaleb Winterburn was the offensive MVP. Dillon’s Gabe Kirkley took home defensive MVP honors for the West.
The East now leads the all-time series 40-32.