Notre Dame players contribute to North's victory in Senior Bowl

Starr and Wire Reports
ND Insider

MOBILE, Ala. — Daniel Jones got his bad Senior Bowl moments out of the way long before kickoff.

The Duke quarterback threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score in the third quarter to lead the North to a 34-24 victory over the South Saturday, putting a nice finishing touch on the week-long job interview with NFL teams.

“Just showing the poise and showing kind of a comfort in the offense is something they wanted to see,” Jones said. “At times, I’m not sure I did great with that, to be honest. But here in the game, I think I did get comfortable and I got into a rhythm. Hopefully that showed them something and showed them I had the ability to do that and had the resiliency to do that.”

The three Notre Dame players in the game all contributed to the winning North cause.

Running back Dexter Williams, a practice standout all week, had 39 yards and 11 carries and one catch for four yards. ND’s leading rusher in 2018 had a four-year TD run midway through the fourth quarter.

Linebacker Drue Tranquill, another practice standout, had two tackles, while fellow Irish linebacker Te’von Coney collected four tackles and recovered a fumble.

Projected as a likely first-round pick, Jones turned in an efficient 8-of-11, 115-yard passing performance. Then, North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley took over in the fourth quarter with similar results.

Jones, one of 11 junior graduates in the game, and Finley ignited a North team that trailed 12-3 at halftime only to score on its first five drives of the second half. He at least had the comfort of a familiar city since Jones is training in Mobile with David Morris at QB Country leading up to the NFL Scouting Combine.

North coach Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders liked how Jones rebounded from mistakes early in the week.

“He showed a lot of mental toughness,” Gruden said. “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.”

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 different receivers, totaling 57 yards.

After Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu stripped the ball from Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Jones delivered a quick score to take 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 fourth and 2 on the way to another North touchdown. McLaurin ran 23 yards on an end around to set up Williams’ TD.

North running back Dexter Williams of Notre Dame (2) carries the ball as South safety Darius West of Kentucky (25) tackles him during the North’s 34-24 Senior Bowl victory, Saturday at Mobile, Ala.