MOBILE, Ala. — Sure, it was only an exhibition of pro prospects, but Jon Gruden got the better of Kyle Shanahan this time.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score in the third quarter to lead Gruden’s North team to a 34-24 victory over Shanahan’s South team Saturday at the Senior Bowl, putting a nice finishing touch on the weeklong job interview with NFL teams.
Jones, one of 11 junior graduates in the game, and North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley ignited a North team that trailed 12-3 at halftime only to score on its first five drives of the second half.
That enabled Gruden to get the better of Shanahan, whose 49ers thumped Gruden’s Raiders 34-3 on Nov. 1.
“He showed a lot of mental toughness,” Gruden said of Jones. “He had some tough moments. He threw two interceptions in 7-on-7 in practice, which is uncommon. But he came back the next day and the next day and the next day and showed the right stuff.”
Projected as a likely first-round pick, Jones turned in an efficient 8-of-11, 115-yard passing performance. Finley took over in the fourth quarter with similar results.
Photo: Butch Dill / Associated Press
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“Just showing the poise and showing kind of a comfort in the offense is something they wanted to see,” Jones said.
Jones led the North on an 84-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. He finished it with a 1-yard touchdown run but completed mid-range passes to four receivers for 57 yards.
After Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu stripped the ball from Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Jones delivered a quick score to give the North a 17-12 lead. He completed a 25-yarder to Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin on a flea flicker. Then UMass receiver Andy Isabella, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, scored on a 19-yard catch after breaking a tackle on his way to the end zone.
Finley then delivered a 23-yarder down the right sideline to Isabella on 4th-and-2 on the way to another North touchdown. McLaurin ran 23 yards on an end around to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams.
Memphis’ Tony Pollard finished off the North scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run. Pollard tied the NCAA record for most career kickoff return touchdowns with his seventh against Wake Forest at the Birmingham Bowl.
The quarterbacks weren’t quite as heralded as last year’s group, which included Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall) and Josh Allen (No. 7). But Missouri’s Drew Lock and Jones are two of the top quarterback prospects in the draft, a group that also includes underclassmen Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State and Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.
Lock was solid in playing the first quarter for the North, going 9-for-14 for 57 yards. Finley was 7-for-11 for 83 yards.
John Zenor is an Associated Press writer.
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