MOBILE, Ala. — Davis Webb looked for Josh Reynolds on his initial third-down play Saturday, found him again on his next pass and a third time for a long touchdown.
It’s just like the California quarterback predicted the night before the Senior Bowl, when that connection with the Texas A&M wide receiver helped the South to a 16-15 victory over the North.
“I told Josh (Friday) night, ‘You were my favorite outside receiver all week. If we get 1 on 1, I’m going your way so you’d better win,'” Webb said. “And he did. He won multiple times.”
Webb spread the ball around to other receivers like Mississippi State’s Fred Ross as well. The Pac-12 Conference’s leading passer directed scoring drives on all three of his possessions while completing 11 of 16 passes for 165 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown strike on a well-thrown fade to Reynolds. Reynolds had six catches for 96 yards, most of them on that first drive with Webb.
Nate Peterman of Pittsburgh had a similarly strong passing performance for the North in the showcase game for senior NFL prospects that actually featured late drama. Peterman fired a 6-yard scoring pass to East Carolina’s Zay Jones with 1:51 left but the North went for two points and a potential lead.
Under heavy pressure from Chattanooga’s Keionta Davis, Peterman’s pass was deflected and intercepted by BYU’s Harvey Langi. The South ran out the clock from there.
The week was about auditioning for NFL teams, more than winning, but Peterman said he wanted that last completion “very bad.”
“You’re always competitive,” said Peterman, who was 16-of-23 passing for 153 yards and played most of the game. “To say you can drive down and win the Senior Bowl in the last seconds, that would have been pretty cool. We didn’t get it but it was a great experience still.”
Webb was the game’s overall MVP after passing for 4,295 yards and 37 touchdowns last season as a graduate transfer from Texas Tech.
He led the South to a touchdown and field goal in the final three minutes of the first half. He and Reynolds proved a prolific combination on the touchdown drive, moving downfield on connections of 21 — on a third-and-10 play — and 13 yards before the touchdown.
Game rules require teams to go for two points in the second quarter, and the South’s attempt failed to keep the halftime lead at 9-3.
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt ran for 118 yards on 15 carries to earn North Outstanding Player Honors, including a 20-yarder and a 43-yarder on back-to-back plays.
“Honestly, the guys up front did a great job and I just showed some patience and was able to hit it,” Hunt said. “It opened up. It was pretty clear reads up there. Everybody was going hard. We wanted to win.”
The South’s honoree was Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis, who forced two fumbles and had a pair of sacks.
Willis said he wanted to get on people’s radar since “I feel like a lot of people don’t know about me.” He said Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams emphasized forcing turnovers.
“It’s find ball, see ball, get ball,” Willis said. “That’s what coach Williams was saying all week long.”
The South committed five turnovers and turned it over on its first three possessions. That included a pair of interceptions thrown by Antonio Pipkin of Division II Tiffin and another by Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs. Saint Francis linebacker Lorenzo Jerome forced a fumble and made two interceptions for the North.
Hue Jackson and his Cleveland Browns staff led the South team, and have the first, 12th and 33rd overall picks in the April draft. The Chicago Bears’ John Fox, who has the No. 3 pick, coached the North. They’re mostly looking for players beyond their top pick in Mobile, since stars like Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen turned down invitations and Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is a junior and not eligible.