Don't know which grille you have on your 97 to know if you can reach through and grab it or not. it runs along the top, if you shine a flashlight up there, you should be able to see it.
Don't know if it takes the same route as my 01 SCrew or not, but it seems to run through the sheet metal back plate behind the driver's side headlight, and through the inner fender well liner.
Maybe taking the fender well liner out, and see if you can grab it there ?
When you pulled the release, did it feel slack when you pulled it the first time ?
Also did you try applying downward pressure on the hood ?
I ask as maybe the cable is not broken, but maybe the latch is stuck, and a little downward pressure on the hood might jar it loose ??
Just some items to try, not sure on any of them.