Senoir Bowl: Ponder leads South to win
MOBILE, Ala. ó Christian Ponder heads to the pros on a high note, after all. And he got a little help from a college rival.
The Florida State quarterback threw two touchdown passes, including a clinching 23-yarder to TCUís Jeremy Kerley in the Southís 24-10 Senior Bowl victory over the North on Saturday.
Ponder completed 7 of 13 passes for 132 yards, including several big ones to Leonard Hankerson of Miami, and the final TD with 3:04 left.
Ponder was looking for a happier transition to an NFL career after missing the ACC title game with an elbow injury and most of the Seminolesí bowl game thanks to a concussion. Ponder led scoring drives on the Southís first two possessions and put on the finishing touches after the North rallied from a 17-0 deficit.
ěI thought I definitely ended on a good note and hopefully my draft status has gone up a little bit,î said Ponder, the gameís MVP.
Hankerson had 100 yards on five catches, including an 18-yard touchdown and a 48-yarder to set up another score ó both from Ponder. He also caught a 14-yarder on the clinching drive, capped by Kerleyís second catch.
ěIt was a little double-move,î Ponder said. ě(Kerley) was wide-open, ran a great route. He won by alignment. They had outside leverage on him, he cut inside and scored.î
Washington quarterback Jake Locker, likely among the first passers drafted, led a touchdown drive but also had offensive linemen save him by falling on two fumbles for the North in an uneven performance.
Ponder was the first FSU quarterback to beat Miami twice since Gary Huff in 1971 and 1972, but relied heavily on a former Hurricanes standout from the outset.
On the gameís opening play, he hooked up on a 48-yarder to Hankerson. Ponder also ran for two first downs, which ended with a field goal by LSUís Josh Jasper.
Ponder then hit Hankerson for an 18-yard touchdown on drive No. 2. Hankerson followed up nicely on one of the best seasons by a Miami receiver, becoming the third to gain 1,000 yards in a season and breaking Michael Irvinís school mark with 13 touchdown catches.
ěI feel like I helped myself a lot by coming here, being focused, getting in the playbook, making plays for the team and just having fun,î Hankerson said.
Hankerson was the South offensive MVP and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller took defensive honors.
Texas defensive lineman Sam Acho (South) and North Carolina defensive back Kendrick Burney (North) were named the most outstanding players for the teams.
Locker completed 6 of 10 passes for 98 yards to lead the North.
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