West two TDs
January 13, 2001
SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a time when Utah receiver Steve Smith thought his football career was over.
Two seasons ago, he broke his neck in a game against Brigham Young. But he returned for his senior year, and capped his college career Saturday with two touchdowns in the West's 20-10 victory Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game.
"It really made me look at life differently," he said about the injury. "You have to go full stride and not have any regrets."
The 76th annual East-West game, which raises money for Shriners' hospitals, was played at the San Francisco Giants' bayside ballpark for the first time.
The event has become a showcase for seniors like Smith, hoping to get another chance to impress NFL scouts looking for draftable talent.
"I think it helped me showcase my talent," said Smith, the game's offensive MVP. "It never hurts to score touchdowns."
Kansas State's Jonathan Beasley was 5-of-10 for 117 yards and the two scoring passes to Smith. Nebraska's Correll Buckhalter caught three passes for 61 yards and ran 10 times for 54 yards.
Boston College quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, playing for the East, was 13-of-28 for 164 yards, including a 51-yard scoring pass to Miami's Andre King.
But the game had a casual air, with players mugging for the scoreboard camera, dancing to the between-play music and greeting fans on the field after the game.
The West went up 7-0 on Beasley's 29-yard scoring pass to Smith with 9:07 left in the first quarter. The East narrowed it on a 44-yard field goal by South Florida's Bill Gramatica.
Kansas State kicker Jamie Rheem hit field goals of 23 and 43 yards in the second quarter to give the West a 13-3 advantage. Rheem missed field goals from 44 and 52 yards.
With just under two minutes to go before halftime, King's touchdown on a catch-and-run play made it 13-10.
Beasley found Smith in the end zone again with a 9-yard pass five seconds into the fourth quarter.
Mack Brown of Texas served as head coach for the West, which included punter Nick Harris of California and defensive lineman Casey Hampton of Texas -- both first-team All-Americans.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr led the East squad, featuring three players from Sugar Bowl champion Miami: safety Al Blades, running back James Jackson and King, a receiver.
Because the nature of the game dictates that defenses can't blitz, defensive players had a chance to demonstrate more varied skills.
"I had to prove to the scouts that I could play pass coverage," said Stanford linebacker Riall Johnson. "I've rushed so much, they figured I couldn't cover, but I didn't have any passes caught on me, and that's the proof."
It was the first football game at Pacific Bell Park. One end zone was butted up against the visitors' dugout, the other was against the left-field bleachers.
"It was weird to see a football gridiron on a baseball field," Harris said.
The San Francisco Demons of the XFL -- the creation of World Wrestling Federation head Vince McMahon -- will open their inaugural season at the ballpark in February.
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