Football stars play in final collegiate game before draft

Thomas Gleaton

Chief Copy Editor

Saturday’s Senior Bowl was a defensive battle, but the South team ran away with the win, 27-16, on Saturday, Jan. 30.

At the 65th version of the collegiate all-star game, MVP Dak Prescott, the quarterback from Mississippi State, led the South team in passing. He went 7-for-10, with 61 yards and a touchdown.

“It was fun,” Prescott said. “These guys — they are fun to play with.”

“I created some great relationships all throughout the week. Just being able to get in there and for them to rally around me in that two-minute offense and to be able to go score, it was fun.”

Defensive end Shawn Oakman, the South team MVP from Baylor, sacked the North quarterback twice for 13 yards and forced a fumble. North team MVP Darian Thompson, a safety from Boise State, recorded five tackles and broke up two passes in the loss.

“It’s always good work,” Oakman said. “Take credit to the coaches. They told me a lot of things over this past weekend I just used what they gave me.”

In the defensively dominated first quarter, both teams combined for 5 first downs and 131 yards. The first score of the game came 11 minutes in, when Aaron Green of TCU ran 25 yards for a South team touchdown.

Duke’s Ross Martin hit a 48-yard field goal with 20 seconds left, putting the South team on top 10-0 at the end of the first.

The defensive battle continued into the second quarter. UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn put the North team on the board, but with 2:56 left in the half, the South team still led.

Prescott then ended the defense’s control of the game when he threw a 5-yard touchdown to SE Missouri’s Paul McRoberts. The pass wrapped up an 80-yard drive for the South team and put them up 17-3 at the half.

Almost six minutes into the second half, Martin extended the South team’s lead, but the North team responded with its longest drive yet. USC quarterback Cody Kessler led his offense 80 yards down the field and scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

Kessler’s touchdown, and the game itself, capped week of practices in front of NFL scouts and coaches.

“They want to see… how you play when you get guys out there,” he said. “It’s been a really good three days, and now you get to go out there and play against another team and get live reps.”

On the ensuing drive, a Martin field goal was blocked and returned 73 yards by Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert. The North team, with six seconds left in the third, failed to capitalize on the turnover.

The South team answered with a 75-yard drive that ended in a single-yard touchdown run from Alabama running back Kenyan Drake. It led 27-10 with 6:28 left in the game.

“Any time you score a touchdown, it’s a great feeling,” Drake said. “Especially in an environment like this, when I’m with a bunch of great athletes. It’s a testament to the whole team and how hard we worked throughout the whole week of practice.”

On the last play of the game, Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel completed a 29-yard touchdown pass, making the final score 27-16

The only Sun Belt player in the game was Arkansas State tight end Darion Griswold, who shared playing time with Kansas State’s Glenn Gronkowski. Gronkowski’s brother Rob is a tight end with the New England Patriots who has broken multiple NFL records at the position.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and his staff managed the North team, and the Jacksonville Jaguars staff, led by head coach Gus Bradley, managed the South team.

“It was a great week,” Garrett said about the future NFL players accepting Senior Bowl invites. “It really was.

“It was so much fun for us to get a chance to be with these guys day after day at practice, and then get a chance to see them play in this game today. I really do believe the guys took the right approach. They came down here, recognized the opportunity they had, and I think they took advantage of it.”

35,271 people were in attendance at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.

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