MOBILE, Ala. – It’s time for these seniors to play their final collegiate game. We had a great time watching them in Mobile all week, now it’s time for some live football. Judging by the turnout in the parking lot, this game should be a fun atmosphere.
The South has won the toss and has elected to receive. Keep up with live updates from Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
South opens with 49-yard gain on first play from scrimmage. Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder fires a deep ball into the wind to Miami WR Leonard Hankerson.After a few runs by Ponder and Lousiville RB Bilal Powell that put the South in the red zone. Ponder was almost intercepted by North Carolina CB Kendric Burney who stepped in front of a slant pattern intended for USC WR Ronald Johnson. Unlike practice, Burney did not pushups after the drop.On third down, Ponder overshot Hankerson on a fade route, forcing South to settle for a Josh Jasper field goal from 23 yards out for the kicker from LSU.
South leads 3-0.
North begins at their own 22 with Washington QB Jake Locker taking the first snaps. They begin with a reverse to Boise State WR Titus Young, but he’s tackled for a 2-yard loss. Locker missed a wide open receiver (Wisconsin TE Lance Kendricks) on second down. North can’t pick up 12 yards on third down and they punt back to the South. R. Johnson returns the punt one yard out to the South’s 30-yard line.
South opens second drive with a holding penalty, they’ll face first-and-20 from their own 20. Ponder remains in the game, he completes to R. Johnson for a 12-yard gain. South picks up the first on another completion to Hankerson, who did well to make a defender miss before picking up a few extra yards. Kentucky RB Derrick Locke picks up another South first down with a nine-yard carry. Then Locke avoids a loss by getting around Baylor NT Phil Taylor, picking up three yards. He could easily have lost two. South face fourth-and-one and elect to go for it, draw to Locke is wide open and he picks up a big gain. Locke’s hard work sets up a Ponder to Hankerson 18-yard touchdown pass. Somewhere, Frank Gore is nodding his head in approval.
South now leads 10-0.
North takes over at their own 26 for their second possession, Locker remains under center. Texas defensive end Sam Acho records the game’s first sack, beating Colorado left tackle Nate Solder around the left edge. Locker’s pass intended for Young falls incomplete when the Boise St. wideout is smashed by Clemson safety Deandre McDaniel.
Alabama’s own, Greg McElroy is now in at quarterback for the South. He’s met with a nice applause. There’s a mix up on the first play as McElroy and his running back are unable to get on same page for a hand-off, the Alabama QB scrambled for a one-yard loss to end the first quarter.
South continues to pick up first downs while the North doesn’t. McElroy completes pass to WVA WR Jock Sanders, then throws on first down to Hawaii WR Greg Salas for two easy completions on the perimeter. McElroy throws high on third down to South Alabama WR Courtney smith, forcing a pun.t
Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi enters the game for the North and completes first pass to Nebraska WR Niles Paul for a five-yard gain. Stanzi can’t do much better than Locker, North goes three-and-out once more. R. Johnson returns the punt inside of North territory down to the 45-yard line.
McElroy almost had big completion, but Sanders drops an open crossing route 20 yards down the field. McElroy throws down field again, but this time is picked off by Stanford CB Richard Sherman. The takeaway is wiped off the board however, the South was offsides on the play. North hurts themselves again with a roughing the passer penalty. South now has the ball at the 15-yard line. Currently, they’re outgaining the North 185-3. A screen pass to WVA RB Noel Devine puts the South first-and-goal at the three-yard line. Devine hid behind his blockers well, which is not surprising, being that he stands 5-foot-7. Devine gets two chances to punch it in between the tackles but is stuffed each time. He gets a third shot at it, but is stopped at the one-inch-line. No sign of the South punt team, they are going for the score. This time, Devine carries off right tackle and there’s nobody there for the North to stop him, touchdown South.
South extends the lead to 17-0.
T. Young brings the ball out for the North, but is smothered by Miami LB Colin McCarthy at the 29-yard line. Nice open-field tackle on a shifty ball carrier for the Hurricane. North continues to struggle, a holding and false start penalty has them facing first-and-25. South continues to be the aggressor, Texas CB Curtis Brown delivers a bone-crunching hit on SDSU WR Vincent Brown, immediately jarring the ball loose on the quick slant. But just when it seemed the North was doomed, Stanzi spun out of trouble in the pocket, rolled to his right and found Kendricks for a 27-yard gain. That’s their only first down of the game so far. But just as it seemed like their fortunes had turned, Arizona DE Brooks Reed sacks Stanzi for a big loss. Stanzi throws incomplete on third down, forcing another North punt with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
TCU QB Andy Dalton gets his shot with 1:19 left in the half. He throws deep on first down to R. Johnson and gets sandwiched in the pocket by two North defenders for good measure. But his throw is broken up by Burney down the left sideline. North picks up first sack, Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan overpowered his man to slam Dalton to the turf. Kerrigan having a good drive, draws a holding penalty on the South with a lightning-fast get off. Arkansas T DeMarcus Love had no choice but to grab the Boilermaker. Dalton’s deep ball to Hankerson on third down is a bit high, only Burney is able to get a hand on it in coverage. South is set to punt.
Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick enters the ball game as the sixth and final signal caller with 16 seconds left on the clock. His first pass goes through the hands of his intended receiver and is picked off by Mississippi State LB K.J. Wright. The South is flagged for a late hit after the interception.
Only six seconds remain, time for one deep ball for the South. Dalton pumps left and throws deep down the right in the direction of Hankerson, but it’s broken up by Sherman. With a little more air under it, Dalton could have thrown a touchdown. He’ll want that throw back.
That’s it for the first half.
Kaepernick opens the second half under center for the North and with one throw has them in South territory, completing a 23-yard slant to Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher. Next play, Kaepernick keeps the ball and runs to the outside but is instantly met by Texas A&M DE Von Miller for a four-yard loss. Kaepernick tries to buy more time by scrambling to his left on third down, but is tripped up by Miller again to force a punt from the North. Good job by their special teams unit to pin South at the 1-yard line.
Dalton completes pass to Hankerson to pick up a first down and get South out from their own end zone. But on ensuing third down, referees miss an offsides call on Oklahoma DL Jeremy Beal, who absolutely creamed Dalton for a sack thanks to his head-start past Alabama T James Carpenter. Tough break for the South, but the North is in need of some of their own breaks at this point of the game trailing by 17.
Kaepernick completes another pass to Sanzenbacher, good timing between the two, with the ball being thrown before the Buckeye broke to the sideline. After a few short runs, Kaepernick finds who else, Sanzenbacher for a 16-yard gain to put the North first-and-goal at the 10. Kaepernick misses an open receiver on second down, I can hear NFL Network’s Mike Mayock chastising him for it as the TV playback blares in the press box. Kaepernick scrambles for a short run on third down and North settles for a 24-yard field goal from UCLA K Kai Forbath to get on the board.
South 17, North 3
Ponder is back in for the South at quarterback, he hands off to Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen for a four-yard gain on first down. Haven’t heard his name called often, but California DL Cameron Jordan makes back-to-back tackles on Allen. Another Pac-10 player, Sherman, makes a pass breakup on third down to force a South punt. Let’s see if the North can continue their momentum.
Locker will be the one to lead the North, fires deep comeback to T. Young for a 17-yard gain. Nice job by Young to stop on a dime while making a quick turn back to the football. Nice route. Locker aims deep for Young on the next play, but the wideout doesn’t hide a push-off very well. He’s flagged for pass interference. Locker completes check down to Maryland RB Da’Rel Scott for a 34-yard gain. Locker tries to escape the pocket but fumbles when being hit from behind by Mississippi State DL Pernell McPhee. Locker looks for the other Boise State WR Austin Pettis in the end zone, but he’s interfered with by USC CB Shareece Wright. North will get the ball on the South 1 first-and-goal. Scott takes the handoff from Locker and scores on a one-yard touchdown.
South 17, North 10
Ponder is out, McElroy is in at quarterback for the South on opening drive of the fourth. Powell carries for 12, hard-earned yards up the middle and finishes by lowering his shoulder at the end of the run. McElroy is sacked on the next play, DL Ian Williams of Notre Dame is credited with the sack. McElroy throws high to intended target on third down, forcing another South punt.
Stanzi is back in at quarterback, looking to tie game up at 17. He’ll start at his own 14. Stanzi throws two passes to SDSU’s Vincent Brown, second of which picks up 15 for the North and a first down. On first down, Stanzi does nice job of throwing on the move to his right to find Kendricks, the tight end from Wisconsin. Stanzi completes another pass to Brown, which puts the North at the South’s 29-yard line. Nice drive for Stanzi so far. Stanzi just threw the ball away, but might have been his most impressive play as he sidestepped a South defender in the pocket before launching it deep and out of bounds. Forbath misses a 44-yard FG attempt however.
NFL Network’s Stacey Dales just reported that Ponder is the only healthy QB for the South. He’ll have to finish the game out with less than eight minutes remaining. The South goes three-and-out however.
It’s now Kaepernick’s turn to lead the North on a game-tying drive. I’m headed to the field to get better situated for postgame reaction.
Ponder throws a 24-yard TD pass to TCU wideout Jeremy Kerley to make it a two-touchdown game.
South wins 24-10, Ponder is likely the MVP with two TD passes.
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