The North team had the big names at quarterback, but it was the South’s passers making many of the big plays in a 45-16 blowout victory at the Senior Bowl on Saturday.
Much of the attention throughout the week went to Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and ultra-talented Josh Allen of Wyoming during practices, yet Western Kentucky’s Mike White and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta combined for four touchdowns and more than 300 yards to lead an offensive explosion for the South.
Lauletta (8-of-12 for 198 yards and three touchdowns) was named Senior Bowl MVP after tossing all three scores in the second half following Allen quickly helping trim a 16-point halftime deficit to two points. (Our Eric Edholm wrote this excellent piece on Lauletta basically being the dream prospect for Bill Belichick.)
Mayfield, who was rumored to sit out the game, started for the North and completed 3-of-7 passes and led a field goal drive on his second series before exiting. He actually exited the stadium altogether at intermission, presumably to get back to his sick mother, whose hospitalization delayed Mayfield’s arrival in Mobile until Tuesday.
Allen replaced Mayfield and struggled in his own two series before, also somewhat surprisingly, starting the second half and catching fire while leading two touchown drives. Allen dropped a pretty 16-yard pass in the bucket to Central Michigan TE Tyler Conklin before connecting with Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe on his second score, a 27-yarder, to complete Allen's day.
Allen finished 9-of-13 for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Like during the practice week, he started slowly but acquitted himself well while flashing big-time arm talent and athleticism.
White led a long TD drive to open the day’s scoring, capped by a three-yard score to Tre’Quan Smith, in a tidy first half. Lauletta shined, tossing three touchdowns — a 71-yarder to D.J. Chark, a 1-yarder to Deon Yelder and a 14-yarder to Marcell Ateman — after intermission.
Kurt Benkert also threw a touchdown for the South club before halftime, a short dump-off after escaping the pocket to Rashaad Penny, who did the rest on a 71-yard scoring scamper. Penny led all backs with137 yards from scrimmage on 10 touches.
Kalen Ballage, a practice-week standout, was the North club’s leading rusher. He piled up 57 yards on 10 carries, including punishing defenders at the end of several early runs.
UTSA pass rusher Marcus Davenport notched a half-sack of Mayfield on the North’s first third down and later scooped a Marquis Haynes’ strip sack of Tanner Lee and rumbled 19 yards into the end zone. Davenport (6-5, 259), like Allen, is a prototype athlete for his position who finished the week on a high note and perhaps helped cement first-round status.
Oklahoma's Ogbonnia Okoronkwo also punctuated a strong week by continung to showcase his unique length and quickness with two sacks. Mobile native, South Alabama S Darrin Reaves, notched an interception for the South club, as did Secdrick Cooper of Louisiana Tech for the North.
Chark had a game-high 160 receiving yards on five catches.
Shaquem Griffin, UCF's one-handed linebacker and one of the nation's best stories, finished with five tackles. He hasn't received a Combine invite and told NFL Media's Alex Flangan he plans on calling the Combine this week to continue making his case. It was clear in the two days of practice PFW observed that Griffin's case is already plenty strong — there's little question he belonged in Mobile, never mind in Indianapois alongside more than 300 fellow prospects.
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