ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw a short second-quarter touchdown pass and Nevin Lawson returned a fourth-quarter fumble 5 yards for another TD to lead the East to a 23-13 victory in the 89th East-West Shrine game on Saturday.
Coastal Carolina’s Matt Hazel scored on the 1-yard scoring pass from Garoppolo, the Eastern Illinois standout who completed nine of 14 passes for 100 yards and no interceptions. Arkansas’ Zach Hocker kicked three field goals for the East, including a 56-yarder that snapped a 13-13 tie early in the fourth quarter.
Nevin, a cornerback from Utah State, scooped up a fumble forced by Western Kentucky’s Andrew Jackson to put the East up 23-13 with 9:38 to go.
Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois started at quarterback for the East and threw a pair of first-quarter interceptions while also failing to get his team into the end zone after Ball State’s Keith Wenning lost a fumble for the West on the second play of the game.
Hoping to capitalize on the quick turnover, Lynch overthrew potential scoring passes to Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon and Miami’s Allen Hurns before the East settled for a 31-yard field goal. Two of his next three passes were intercepted by Arizona State’s Alden Darby and Arizona’s Shaquille Richardson.
More than 100 players from last winter’s East-West game wound up in NFL camps, and this year’s participants were hoping to make the most of an opportunity to showcase their skills for pro scouts.
Lynch, who finished 2 of 7 passing for 3 yards, was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2013 and led Northern Illinois to a BCS bowl berth as a junior and a 24-4 record in two years as a starter.
Despite throwing for over 6,000 yards, 49 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions as a junior and senior, the 6-foot, 216-pound Lynch, who was an even more effective runner in college, entered practice for Saturday’s game feeling he had to demonstrate he can throw the ball well enough to have a chance to be successful as a pro.
Garoppolo’s TD pass to Hazel gave the East a 13-6 lead that the West erased when Washington’s Keith Price threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Toledo’s Bernard Reedy early in the third quarter. Reedy finished with four receptions for 46 yards, and San Jose State’s Chandler Jones also had a big game for the West with seven catches for 73 yards.