MOBILE, Ala. - Christian Ponder will head to the pros on a high note. While fellow quarterback Jake Locker had another up-and-down showing in front of NFL scouts.
Ponder, the South starter from Florida State, threw two touchdown passes, including a clinching 23-yarder to TCU’s Jeremy Kerley in a 24-10 Senior Bowl victory over the North on Saturday.
Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who started for the North and will also likely be among the first passers taken by the NFL, led a touchdown drive but also had offensive linemen save him by falling on two fumbles in an uneven performance.
The fifth-year senior from UW completed only one of his three attempts on the North’s first two drives for a 2-yard gain and he overthrew Wisconsin tight end Lance Kendricks across the middle on his first attempt.
“It’s not been very many years that I’ve been in the pocket making passes,” Locker told a reporter from the NFL Network on the sideline during the game. “With repetition it’ll only get better.”
Overall, Locker threw for 98 yards to lead the North on 6-of-10 accuracy.
Meanwhile, his counterpart Ponder completed 7 of 13 passes for 132 yards, including several big ones to Leonard Hankerson of Miami, and the final TD for the South with 3:04 to play.
“I thought I definitely ended on a good note and hopefully my draft status has gone up a little bit,” said Ponder, the game’s MVP.
On the game’s opening play from scrimmage, Ponder hooked up on a 48-yarder to Hankerson. Ponder also ran for two first downs on the drive, which ended with a field goal.
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 Irvin’s school mark with 13 touchdown catches.
“I 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,” Hankerson said.
While Ponder & Co. clicked early, jumping out to a 17-0 lead, the North didn’t have a first down until Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi found Kendricks for a 27-yard gain in the final two minutes of the first half.
The North finally got going in the second half.
Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick flashed both his throwing and running skills on the North’s first scoring drive, in the third quarter. He completed three passes and had an 8-yard run to set up a 24-yard field goal.
Then Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott scored on a 1-yard run with 19 seconds remaining in the third after the North got a first-and-goal on a pass interference call in the end zone to aid the Locker-led drive and make it 17-10.
Locker had completions of 15 and 34 yards, but also was saved for the second time by an offensive lineman when he fumbled trying to scramble.
“I thought we got in a little better rhythm, were able to move the ball, got our running game working a little bit better,” Locker said. “And it allowed us to put some points on the board.”