News | Minnesota Vikings –

8 Takeaways from 70th Senior Bowl Game


The North team, led by Jon Gruden and the Raiders staff, scored 31 of its points in the second half, rallying for a 34-24 win in the 70th Reese's Senior Bowl on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

The squad overcame an early 9-0 lead built by the South (coached by Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers staff).

Gruden rolled out an extra motivating tactic for the annual all-star game that featured more than 110 draft-eligible prospects. He and his staff slapped Raiders logo helmet stickers onto the college helmets of players who did something that pleased them during the game. Several players earned more than one sticker.

Here are eight takeaways from the game.

1. Most Valuable Player

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

Jones entered the game in the second quarter but really found his rhythm in the third.

He led a pair of touchdown drives and another possession that resulted in a field goal during the North's rally in the third quarter.

Jones finished 8-of-11 passing for 110 yards with one touchdown. He added a 1-yard rushing touchdown during the rally.

2. A sack and a daddy

Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders had the most memorable week of any player.

His fiancée went into labor about a week early and delivered the couple's daughter in Chicago on Tuesday. Saunders participated in media day and the first two practices of the week before flying to Chicago to see Kambridge. He left Chicago on Friday but missed his connecting flight in Atlanta. He was able to get to Mobile on Saturday in time to participate in the game.

Saunders dropped West Virginia quarterback Will Grier for a loss of 9 after winning a 1-on-1 matchup with Mississippi guard Javon Patterson to start the South team's second possession.

The 320-pound defensive tackle celebrated his sack by acting out a rock the baby motion.

3. Turnover, trick play helps momentum shift

After Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson forced a fumble by South quarterback Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), the North turned to a trick play by using a flea flicker.

Jones connected with Ohio State's Terry McLaurin for a gain of 25 from the South 44 to the 19.

Jones then hit Andy Isabella (Massachusetts) on a quick receiver screen that resulted in a 19-yard touchdown that gave the North a 17-12 lead.

4. Top targets

Isabella led the North with seven receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. Keelan Doss (UC-Davis) added four receptions for 55 yards.

Hunter Renfrow (Clemson) led the South with six receptions for 76 yards, and Gary Jennings (West Virginia) added two catches for 64 yards and a score.

5. 1-2 punch

The North was able to get its ground game going in the second half as well.

Tony Pollard (Memphis), who was wearing a No. 1 jersey, rushed eight times for 61 yards and a score, and Dexter Williams (Notre Dame) added 11 rushes for 38 yards and a score in a No. 2 jersey.

6. Game of adjustments

The game used college officials and modified NFL rules, which are much stricter on how much contact is allowed by defensive backs when covering receivers.

Texas cornerback Kris Boyd, who was playing for the North, was flagged three times on the South's first two possessions, including infractions of 28 and 13 yards on a possession that ended with a 33-yard field goal by LSU's Cole Tracy.

Tracy missed a PAT after the first touchdown by the South (the laces were in during the hold instead of the preferred out position).

7. Coming out firing

Tyree Jackson, a 6-foot-7 quarterback out of Buffalo, didn't step into the game until the first play of the fourth quarter.

When he did, however, he showed his big arm, connecting with West Virginia receiver Gary Jennings for a gain of 54.

Jackson added a scramble for 11 on a third-and-10 a play before ripping the ball to Jennings for a 10-yard touchdown on a quick slant.

Jackson finished 12-of-20 passing for 157 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

8. Senior Bowl to Super Bowl

Approximately 30 percent of the players on NFL rosters have participated in a previous Senior Bowl.

The Rams and Patriots, who are scheduled to arrive in Atlanta Sunday for Super Bowl LIII, have 15 notable Senior Bowl alumni.

Rams: John Sullivan (2008), Aaron Donald (2014), Rob Havenstein (2015), Austin Blythe (2016), Gerald Everett (2017), Josh Johnson (2017), Cooper Kupp (2017) and Josh Reynolds (2017)

Patriots: Patrick Chung (2009), Devin McCourty (2010), Kyle Van Noy (2014), James White (2014), Phillip Dorsett (2015), Trey Flowers (2015) and Shaq Mason (2015)

Scoring drives

Q1, 10:18 remaining

South 6, North 0

Ryquell Armstead (Temple) rushes for a 1-yard touchdown (PAT no good) [9 plays, 75 yards, 4:42 time of possession]

Q1, 3:41 remaining

South 9, North 0

Cole Tracy (LSU) kicks a 33-yard field goal [9 plays, 64 yards, 4:17]

Q2, 7:47 remaining

South 9, North 3

Austin Seibert (Oklahoma) kicks a 20-yard field goal [15 plays, 73 yards, 7:13]

Q2, 0:27 remaining

South 12, North 3

Tracy kicks a 43-yard field goal [4 plays, 0 yards, 0:18]

Q3, 10:20 remaining

South 12, North 10

Daniel Jones (Duke) rushes for a 1-yard touchdown (Seibert PAT) [10 plays, 84 yards, 4:40]

Q3, 8:10 remaining

North 17, South 12

Andy Isabella (Massachusetts) catches a 19-yard touchdown from Jones [2 plays, 44 yards, 0:45]

Q3, 0:02 remaining

North 20, South 12

Seibert kicks a 29-yard field goal [13 plays, 70 yards, 5:32]

Q4, 12:06 remaining

North 20, South 18

Gary Jennings (West Virginia) catches a 10-yard pass from Tyree Jackson (Buffalo) (2-point conversion run no good) [5 plays, 75 yards, 2:54]

Q4, 8:05 remaining

North 27, South 18

Dexter Williams (Notre Dame) rushes for a 4-yard touchdown (Seibert PAT) [8 plays, 75 yards, 4:01]

Q4, 3:17 remaining

North 34, South 18

Tony Pollard (Memphis) rushes for a 21-yard touchdown (Seibert PAT) [4 plays, 35 yards, 2:36]

Q4, 0:14 remaining

North 34, South 24

David Sills (West Virginia) catches a 15-yard touchdown from Jackson (2-point conversion no good) [13 plays, 75 yards, 2:55]