January 16, 1999



STANFORD, Calif. – When two of the East’s four running backs were%^$unable to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl because of injuries, the burden%^$fell on Ohio State’s Joe Montgomery. He turned it into an NFL audition.%^$

Montgomery had 23 carries for 93 yards, including a 7-yard scoring run, and%^$the East defense had three interceptions and four sacks in a 20-10 win in%^$Saturday’s game.%^$

Montgomery never got to star during his career at Ohio State. He was%^$ineligible his freshman year, and limited in his sophomore and junior years by%^$a knee injury. This past season, he was overshadowed in the backfield by%^$teammate Michael Wiley.%^$

But when Cecil Martin of Wisconsin (shoulder injury) and Anthony Gray of%^$Western New Mexico (hamstring injury) were held out of Saturday’s game,%^$Montgomery got his chance.%^$

“We didn’t go into the game thinking that Joe was going to carry that%^$much,” East coach John Cooper of Ohio State said. “But we found out right%^$before the game that Cecil and the kid from Western New Mexico couldn’t play,%^$so we had only two running backs.%^$

“Obviously I’m proud of Joe Montgomery,” Cooper added. “Joe Montgomery%^$wanted to be here, unlike some other guys who didn’t show up. And he played%^$like it today.”%^$

Montgomery gave himself just a “C-plus or a B” for his performance in the%^$game, but said it was a great way to end his college career – especially after%^$losing much of his career to the knee injury.%^$

“Somebody said I would never play football again, but the character of a%^$person comes when a person gets knocked down,” he said.%^$

Montgomery’s teammate at Ohio State, Joe Germaine, threw for 207 yards as%^$the East won for just the third time in the last 10 Shrine games.%^$

L.C. Stevens of North Carolina caught six passes for 154 yards for the East%^$squad, including a 22-yard scoring pass from Aaron Brooks of Virginia.%^$

Jeff Hall of Tennessee added field goals of 47 and 26 yards for the East.%^$

Oregon’s Akili Smith had a 53-yard scoring pass to California’s Dameane%^$Douglas for the West and Kansas State’s Martin Gramatica added a 31-yard field%^$goal, but Smith was held to 9-of-19 passing for 127 yards and was intercepted%^$once.%^$

The announced attendance for the game, which no longer draws the nation’s%^$top college stars and featured only one first-team All American this year, was%^$69,111 – but the actual crowd seemed about half that size on a cool, overcast%^$afternoon.%^$

Gramatica’s field goal midway through the first period gave the West a 3-0%^$lead, but the East responded with Stevens’ scoring catch up the middle of the%^$field and Hall’s 47-yard field goal to take a 10-3 lead early in the second%^$period.%^$

The West tied the game on Douglas’ scoring catch, on which he got behind two%^$defenders, but an interception by Rutgers’ Reggie Stephens of a halfback option%^$pass set the East up for Montgomery’s scoring run and a 17-10 halftime lead.%^$

The third period was scoreless and Hall capped a 13-play, 77-yard drive that%^$consumed 7:06 with a 26-yard field goal with 11:18 remaining to give the East a%^$20-10 lead.

AP Sports Writer