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January 20, 2007

East-West Shrine game ends in 21-3 West win

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HOUSTON -Nevada's Jeff Rowe threw two touchdown passes, one of them covering 79 yards to Fresno State's Paul Williams, to help the West beat the East 21-3 on Saturday night in the 82nd East-West Shrine Game.

With the West ahead 14-3 late in the first half, Rowe found Williams running down the right sideline as defensive back Kenny Scott of Georgia Tech fell about midfield. Williams hauled in the pass at about the East 40 and sprinted into the end zone. It was the second-longest TD pass in Shrine history, eclipsed only by an 80-yarder 80 years ago.

On the previous West possession, Rowe, who had 16 TD passes and just seven interceptions in the regular season, connected with Texas Tech's Joel Filani on a 6-yard scoring pass, capping a 61-yard drive.

Hall of Fame coach Don Shula coached the East squad. Dan Reeves, who played or coached in an NFL-record nine Super Bowls, directed the West.

BYU's John Beck, the Mountain West offensive player of the year, connected with Boise State's Brad Lau in the left flat and Lau strolled into the end zone to give the West a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game.

There was little offense for either team until the West erupted with Rowe's two scoring passes, which earned him honors as offensive player of the game, and little offense after that.

Virginia Tech kicker Brandon Pace, who in the first period missed a 43-yard field goal attempt, made one from 40 yards with 10:44 to go in the first half to account for the East's lone score.

The East's Dan Bazuin, a defensive lineman from Central Michigan and the school's career sacks leader, had 2 1/2 sacks and two tackles for yardage losses to take defensive player of the game honors.

Shula rotated quarterbacks Drew Tate of Iowa, Lester Ricard of Tulane and Matt Gutierrez of Idaho State on consecutive plays for much of the game.

Reeves elected to have each of his three quarterbacks play entire quarters, starting with Beck, then Rowe, who completed just four of nine passes for 115 yards. Zac Taylor of Nebraska played the entire second half when the West had only three possessions and both teams were scoreless. He was sacked three times.

The game moved last year to San Antonio from San Francisco after years of declining interest in the Bay Area of California, then to Houston's Reliant Stadium this year. Paid attendance was announced as 23,554, an improvement of about 5,000 from a year ago at the Alamodome, although the actual crowd Saturday night appeared considerably less.



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