West’s Parry Caps His Comeback
Neil Parry sidestepped and lunged, then tackled the kick returner. An instant later, he let loose a joyous scream.
Parry endured three years of pain, doubt and intense rehabilitation to return to football after part of his right leg was amputated. And with one simple tackle in the East-West Shrine game Saturday in front of 25,602 at SBC Park, his comeback was worth every sacrifice.
Larry Croom of Nevada Las Vegas scored two touchdowns, and UCLA linebacker Brandon Chillar returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown in the West’s 28-7 victory over the East.
Parry, who played sparingly on San Jose State’s punt blocking team this season, was given the chance to cover kickoffs by West Coach John Robinson. He came through with his first tackle since his comeback, stopping Lawrence Richardson of Arkansas in the second quarter.
“I was just so excited to do what any football player would do, and make a tackle,” said Parry, whose leg was amputated below the knee after he was injured during a game in 2000.
“That one play makes everything worth it. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way.”
Boise State’s Ryan Dinwiddie, the most efficient passer in NCAA history, completed 13 of 18 for 109 yards and a touchdown. He was named the outstanding offensive player in the 79th edition of the annual game featuring top college seniors.
The East quarterbacks were not particularly impressive. Tennessee’s Casey Clausen had two passes intercepted, Ohio State’s Craig Krenzel was only five for 12 with a fumble, and Pittsburgh’s Rod Rutherford passed for only 64 yards.
The West clinched it when Chillar intercepted Clausen’s pass and returned it for the only score of the second half.
Chillar, the Bruins’ leading tackler and an All-Pacific 10 selection, was named the outstanding defensive player.
“This was an exciting experience,” Chillar said. “You play against some of these guys all year. To be able to meet them and develop friendships is fun.”