In college football's last showcase of the season for seniors, two running backs from the East upstaged a pair of big-name quarterbacks.
Virginia's Terry Kirby ran for two touchdowns and Boston College's Chuckie Dukes led all rushers with 62 yards on 13 carries Sunday as the East got its first Shrine Game victory in four years, 31-17 over the West.Kirby, the Cavaliers' career rushing leader, scored on runs of 7 and 1 yards in the first half, finishing with 34 yards on 13 carries, as the East dominated despite committing five turnovers. The West had won the last three contests and five of the last six.
"I wanted to play hard," Kirby said. "I'm normally a tailback but I had to play fullback today. It's like a foreign language, but it was a matter of making the adjustments, which I did."
Kirby was complemented by Dukes, named the game's outstanding offensive player. They stole the spotlight from their team's quarterback tandem, Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta of Miami and Notre Dame's Rick Mirer.
Coming on the heels of his three-interception Sugar Bowl flop, Torretta was steady in front of dozens of pro scouts, completing 9 of 16 passes for 69 yards with one interception. Mirer struggled, hitting 7 of 16 for 105 yards with two interceptions, but engineered the flashiest play of the game, a 60-yard pass to Walter Dunson of Middle Tennessee State.
"I thought I did real well," said Torretta, also playing in front of 500 fans from his nearby hometown of Pinole. "On a couple of deep throws we weren't on the same page as far as timing, but I was in a couple of series, then out a couple, and I'm not used to the receivers I was throwing to."
Trailing 21-17 at halftime, the West didn't get going in the second half, its first drive killed when Chris Hutchinson of Michigan sacked Washington's Mark Brunell for a 12-yard loss. The defense, which made several big plays in the first half, seemed to run out of gas in the second.
"We just couldn't generate something in the second half," West coach Rich Brooks of Oregon said. "We left the defense on the field too long. They ate up a lot of the clock in the second half, and we just couldn't do anything about it."
Brunell was 7 of 15 for 89 yards and one touchdown with one interception, and Weber State's Jamie Martin threw for 67 yards and one touchdown with an interception.
The West was led by Arizona State linebacker Brett Wallerstedt, the game's outstanding defensive player, with 13 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Daron Alcorn of Akron kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the East up 24-17 with 7:23 left in the third quarter. On its next possession, the East put the game away following Mirer's 60-yard strike to Dunson. A 1-yard run by Clemson's Rudy Harris made it 31-17 with 14:23 remaining.
In the first half, the East overcame four turnovers, including a fumble at the goal line by Dukes inside the last two minutes of the quarter. That ended a 70-yard drive after the West scored on a 16-yard strike by Martin to Arizona State tight end Bob Brasher with 5:48 left in the half.
Texas Tech's Tracy Saul intecepted a pass by Torretta on the game's opening drive, setting up a 40-yard scoring pass from Brunell to Eric Guliford of Arizona State on the next play.
But the West turned it over on its next possession when Russell White of California fumbled and Rutgers linebacker Shawn Williams returned it 30 yards to tie the game with 12:05 left in the first quarter.
Mirer gave the West the ball again when Texas A&M's Derrick Frazier picked off a pass. The ensuing drive stalled at the East 31 and Hawaii kicker Jason Elam's 48-yard field goal gave the West a 10-7 advantage with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
Torretta put the East back on top 14-10 with a 61-yard drive capped by Kirby's 7-yard touchdown run.
On the East's next possession, Torretta hit Kirby with a swing pass for a 21-yard gain and the Heisman Trophy winner then scrambled for another 12 before Kirby scored again on a 1-yard run up the middle with 9:22 left in the half.
The game to benefit Shriner's hospitals was played before a record crowd of 84,000 at Stanford Stadium.