Alabama's OJ Howard
MOBILE - The South team continued their domination of the North, defeating them 16-15 to earn their seventh victory in 10 tries.
Winning the toss and electing to receive, the North squad got the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl underway. Nate Peterman started the game under center for the orange-clad North team but he was unable to get anything going, as they went 3-and-out, punting the ball to the South squad for their first drive of the day.
Tennessee stand-out Josh Dobbs got the starting nod for the South who wore black tops. Dobbs got the South moving in the right direction when his first pass connected with the 6’6” tight end from Alabama, OJ Howard, much to the delight of the Crimson Tide fans in attendance. Donnel Pumphrey added 16 yards on the ground on the next two plays but the drive came to an abrupt halt when, on third-and-1, Ben Gedeon knocked the ball loose from Matt Dayes, and Obi Melifonwu fell on it for the North.
Making the most of the turnover, the North marched the ball down the field with a healthy dose of the run game with Corey Clement, Kareem Hunt and De’Veon Smith getting multiple carries on the drive. On third-and-goal from the 4, Nate Peterman looked for Zay Jones who appeared to catch the ball in the back of the endzone but he was ruled out of bounds and the North had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez.
The next South drive ended just like the first, with a turnover, when Lorenzo Jerome picked off a Dobbs pass to give the ball back to the black and orange. The two squads spent the rest of the quarter and 10 minutes of the second changing possessions and jockeying for field position.
With 6:38 left to play in the first half, Davis Webb led the South squad to the line for his first chance under center. He immediately made and impact, finding Fred Ross for a 12-yard strike and a first down. Two plays later he found Evan Ingram for 10 yards and followed up with a 21-yard bomb to Josh Reynolds into enemy territory. However, the big play of the drive was the last play of the drive as Webb connected with Reynolds again, this time for 39 yards and a touchdown. They then went for two unsuccessfully to make the score 6-3 with 2:23 left in the half. The North went three-and-out to put the ball back in Webb’s hands with 1:03 left before the half. Webb did his part and led his squad down the field and gave Jake Elliott a chance at a field goal from 37 yards that he nailed to give the South a 9-3 lead at the half.
It was again Webb under center when the South took the field in the third and again the drive ended with a score. The combination if Webb’s arm and the legs of Jamaal Williams and Dayes produced another touchdown when Dayes took the ball in from 2 yards out. Elliott drilled the PAT and the South took a 16-3 lead.
The North squad got back on track in the second half when Hunt had a break-out drive. He carried the ball five times on the drive for 68 yards including back-to-back rushes of 20 and 43 yards, but the South defense stood strong and held the North to a 29-yard Gonzalez field goal to make the score 16-6. Following a fumble, the North tacked on another field goal to make the score 16-9 and set up some last-minute fireworks in the fourth.
After swapping possessions and punts for the remainder of the third, the North found themselves with the ball on their own 16 with 7:40 left to play. Hunt got the drive started with an 18-yard rush. He followed up with two more rushes of 9 and 2. Three plays later Peterman found Jeremy Sprinkle for 18 yards down to the South 13. Four plays later, on fourth-and-3, Peterman found Jones in the back of the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown strike to make the score 16-15. Not willing to settle for a tie, Chicago Bears head coach, and leader of the North squad, John Fox, opted to go for two, but Peterman’s pass was picked off in the back of the endzone to secure the win for the South.
For the seventh time in 10 years, the South beat the North, taking the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl by a final score of 16-15.
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