Jan. 25, 2009
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Robert Ayers of Tennessee was named the game's outstanding defensive player. The starter at right defensive end recorded three tackles and 1.5 sacks.
His combined sack with Georgia's Corvey Irvin of North quarterback Rhett Bomar (Sam Houston State) in the end zone and resulting fumble recovery by Ole Miss' Peria Jerry in the fourth quarter gave the South a 35-18 lead.
Ayers also sacked Nathan Brown (Central Arkansas) in the third quarter.
Pat White had a message for all those experts who think the West Virginia quarterback might make a better receiver in the NFL: Not so fast.
A local hero from Daphne, just outside Mobile, White led two scoring drives and passed for 95 yards as the South defeated the North 35-18 in the Senior Bowl, a showcase for many of college football's top prospects.
"I'm just happy I had the opportunity. This was a great coaching staff that taught me a lot in a week," White said. "I'm looking forward to keeping working, trying to get better."
The most prolific running quarterback in major college football history, White stood out among a group of high profile signal callers and was the most valuable player of the game that featured many top NFL prospects.
If there were doubts about the strength of White's arm, he tried to erase them in the third quarter when he stretched the South's lead with an impressive 39-yard scoring toss to Mississippi's Mike Wallace in the corner of the end zone.
"I just wanted to give him a chance to catch the ball," White said. "He told me any time he had a go route, throw it out there and he was going to go get it. That's what he did."
Alabama's John Parker Wilson also played well, completing 7-of-13 passes for 56 yards and scoring on a four-yard scamper in the first quarter.
Wilson was named offensive player of the game.
The South was coached by Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio and his staff. Del Rio said he was impressed by his squad.
"We had a good week of practice, the guys really worked hard and had fun. We got after it pretty good, especially early in the week, came out tonight and kind of let it all out and had a good time competing," Del Rio said.
Even though it was just a all-star game, Del Rio said the win felt good.
"I like winning -- winning at anything. To cap off a really good week of work and evaluations with a win, it's good," Del Rio said.
The South led 21-10 at halftime and stretched it to 28-10 with White's scoring pass midway through the third quarter.
The North narrowed the lead to 28-18 early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Eric Kettani of Navy and a 2-point conversion run by Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson. But any hopes of getting closer were dashed with 8:47 to play when All-American defensive tackle Peria Jerry of Mississippi fell on a fumble in the North end zone for the final South score.
The South dominated in the first half as three different quarterbacks directed impressive scoring drives.
North defensive back Louis Delmas said the South seemed like the faster team.
"I think they just came out more prepared than us. They came out faster ... and I think we reacted kind of slow," Delmas said.
Wilson started the scoring with a 4-yard run from out of the shotgun formation with 7:28 to play in the first quarter. Wilson's score ended a 16-play, 80-yard drive in which he completed four passes for 37 yards.
The first quarter ended with the South ahead 7-3 after the North got on the board with a 38-yard field goal by Utah's Louie Sakoda.
White showed what he could do early in the second quarter, leading an eight-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Quinn Johnson of LSU. The drive included a 33-yard pass from White to North Carolina State running back Andre Brown.
Then it was Clemson's Cullen Harper's turn behind center and he took the South 59 yards in eight plays, with Brown scoring on a 1-yard run with 3:35 to play in the half. The drive was sparked by a 32-yard pass from Harper to Arizona's Mike Thomas.
The North narrowed the South's lead to 21-10 with 1:02 to play in the half as Central Arkansas quarterback Nathan Brown completed a 4-yard pass to Johnson.
Neither team was able to launch much of a running attack. The leading rusher was the South's Rashad Jennings of Liberty College in Virginia, who carried nine times for 41 yards.
The North's Juaquin Iglesias of Oklahoma was the leading receiver with six catches for 90 yards.