The 71st edition of the Reese's Senior Bowl is in the books.
The North team coached by the Detroit Lions staff defeated the South team coached by the Cincinnati Bengals staff 34-17 on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Now the national pre-draft focus will turn to the NFL Scouting Combine, which is scheduled to open in Indianapolis on Feb. 27.
1. Hot start for Herbert
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert opened the game for the South out of the shotgun but lined up under center on the second snap of the game. It was his first significant game action under center, but he led a crisp seven-lay, 65-yard drive.
Herbert completed all four of his passes during the drive and also had a scramble for 19 yards that should have been a sack by Michigan's Joshua Uche. Instead of tackling Herbert, Uche tagged off as if it was still practice and contacting the quarterback was prohibited.
Herbert capped the drive with an underneath pass to Lamical Perine that the Mobile native turned into a 16-yard touchdown thanks to blocks from LSU offensive linemen Lloyd Cushenberry III and Damien Lewis.
The QB finished 9-of-12 passing for 83 yards and the score. He added 22 yards on three rushes and was named MVP of the game, despite only being asked to play one quarter.
2. Caught off guard
The North tied the game at 7 on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Michgan's Shea Patterson to TCU's Daris Anderson. A play-action allowed Anderson to make his way across the field to the left sideline, and no defender followed.
Anderson had an easy run all the way inside the 5, and even though he was forced out just shy of the goal line, the play was ruled a touchdown (there are no replay challenges or official reviews in the Senior Bowl).
Rules for the game prohibit imbalanced formations on offense and pre-snap motions and shifts. They also require defenses to play Cover 1, 2 or 3 and outlaw stunts or blitzes, but the deceptive play-action pass was within the rules.
3. Anae-hilating tackles
Utah edge rusher Bradlee Anae made his presence felt in the second quarter by recording sacks on consecutive snaps.
Anae beat Texas Tech tackle Terence Steele to take down Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts for losses of 3 and 9.
Anae also beat Oregon tackle Calvin Throckmorton on his next rep, recording a hit on Hurts and forcing an interception that was nabbed by Ohio State LB Malik Harrison.
The Hawaii native also split another sack, but he was flagged for jumping offsides when the South had the ball inside its own 1.
4. Strong day for North RBs and backup QB
Anderson's 75-yard reception helped him rack up more than 100 yards from scrimmage, and his teammate in the backfield Josh Kelley from UCLA racked up 102 yards on 15 rushes and helped salt away the game in the fourth quarter.
Kelley extended several runs by keeping his balance through contact.
Washington State's Anthony Gordon entered the game in the third quarter and threw a pair of touchdowns. Gordon also helped lead another touchdown drive in the third quarter, taking a 10-10 game into blowout territory.
5. Teammates turned foes turn in big plays
It may be a smaller school, but Georgia Southern placed two players in the game.
Kindle Vildor played cornerback for the South squad and picked off Patterson in the second quarter. Vildor returned the overthrow 22 yards.
Kicker Tyler Bass was assigned to the North since the South kicker was Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship. Bass was perfect on the day, going 4-for-4 on extra points and booming field goals of 41 and 50 yards with plenty to spare.
The Senior Bowl again provided an opportunity for players from smaller schools to make an impression.