The pageantry and prestige of the US Army All-American Bowl was on full display Saturday afternoon in Houston.
Former Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence and head coach Joey King were all smiles during the pregame of the NBC live telecast, and the camera constantly panned to Lawrence throughout the lead-up to the game.
However, when kickoff finally arrived, it was all business, and the reality set in that the best high school players in the country were going head to head.
After interceptions on each of his first two series under center, former Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not have the start he would have liked.
One of the interceptions was on a pass that was batted in the air, and the other appeared to be a miscommunication on a wide receiver screen.
After the rough start and playing with unfamiliar receivers, the pressure was on Lawrence to make amends for his poor start and bring his East team back in the game.
Lawrence, as Cartersville fans have come to expect, delivered.
In his five total drives for the game, the last three ended in scores. One was a field goal to end the first half. Then came a touchdown to start the second half and, after the other two quarterbacks on the roster took unsuccessful turns at the helm, Lawrence threw a touchdown pass on his team’s final drive of the game.
He threw two impressive passes on the run across his body while going to his left on that last drive, including one for a touchdown and one for 22-yard gain.
The East likely would have tied the score at 17-all with 45 seconds left had it gone for the extra point after the successful drive, but the East opted to go for 2 since there’s no overtime in the all-star game.
A trick play on the attempted 2-point conversion, in which Lawrence ran out as a receiver, failed, and the East lost by one.
However, it was still an impressive final three drives for Lawrence and the kind of turnaround he had hoped for after the two interceptions to begin the game.
Lawrence was the only quarterback to lead a scoring drive for the East team, and recruiting media outlet Rivals anointed him the best quarterback for the entire All-American week in San Antonio.
“Lawrence has been the top-ranked player in the Rivals100 from day one and, despite a shaky performance in the game, he was still the best quarterback at the Army All-American Bowl,” Rivals’ Adam Friedman said. “During the week, Lawrence lit up the defense with great throws all over the field. The Clemson signee was exceptionally accurate on his deep passes during the week and he tried to carry that over to the game but the West defensive backs made it tough on him. Lawrence found his rhythm late in the game and led a late touchdown drive.”
Lawrence finished the game 11-of-17 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 13 yards on five attempts, but one of those was a 17-yard loss on a sack, spoiling the final line.
Those stats are not what he’s accustomed to — minus the strong completion percentage — and the two interceptions were more than Lawrence threw his entire senior season.
Of course, all the quarterbacks struggled in the defense-friendly all-star game setting.
Possibly even more significant than the game, Lawrence was named the 2017 US Army Player of the Year the night before during the event’s banquet.
The US Army All-American Bowl signified the end of the chapter in Lawrence’s career, as he headed straight to Clemson after the game as an early enrollee.
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