MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Maryland's Chris Ryland kicked four field goals and Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener passed for 139 yards and a touchdown to lead the National team to a 27-10 victory over the American team in the Senior Bowl on Saturday.
Haener, named the game's MVP, delivered a 44-yard touchdown pass to Stanford receiver Michael Wilson in the fourth quarter. He thrived on a short-handed quarterback situation for the team, completing 12 of 19 passes after setting a Fresno State career record with a 68.1% completion rate.
"I just wanted to come out here and get a win with the guys and cap off a really good week,” Haener told NFL Network. “Just have a really good week and get the win.
“We found a way to get the win and that was fun.”
Haener missed four games with an ankle injury this season but returned to help finish off a nine-game winning streak for the Bulldogs. Like the other quarterbacks in the game, he's trying to improve on mid- to- late-round draft projections.
“I love proving the doubters wrong,” Haener said. “I love the motivation. I love the passion that it brings me. Keep coming with it, man.”
The American team's biggest play came early in the fourth when Virginia's Anthony Johnson Jr. returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown. Johnson was wearing the No. 15 jersey in honor of wide receiver Devin Chandler, who was among three Cavaliers players shot and killed in November, along with Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.
Cunningham was hit as he threw and appeared to land on his right arm, briefly heading toward the locker room with a strained shoulder. He returned to the sidelines, but not the game.
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall didn’t play in the game for the National team. It wasn’t immediately known why, but Hall missed the New Mexico Bowl with an ankle injury. He did participate in practices when quarterbacks were off-limits for contact.
The American team did get another big defensive play to stay alive with a fourth-down, fourth-quarter sack by Florida A&M's Isaiah Land, the 2021 Buck Buchanan winner as the top player in FCS after leading the nation with 19 sacks.
Cunningham hit Purdue tight end Payne Durham just short of the left pylon late in the first half. Then he dropped the snap, picked up the ball and rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. Cunningham passed for 70 touchdowns and ran for 47 at Louisville following in the footsteps of friend and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
But he attempted only five passes in the Senior Bowl, completing three for 49 yards. Northwestern's Evan Hull ran 10 times for a game-high 74 yards.
Ryland's four field goals included a 41-yarder on the final play of the first half for a 17-3 lead. He did miss a 52-yard attempt early in the third quarter.
TCU's Max Duggan, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, completed 4 of 9 passes for 26 yards for the American team. Duggan overthrew Princeton's Andrei Iosivas in the end zone on a fourth-down play that was his best chance for a touchdown.
Shepherd College quarterback Tyson Bagent, whose 159 career touchdown passes is an NCAA all-division record, completed 17 of 22 passes for 138 yards before throwing a last-minute interception near the goal line.
Bagent is trying to become the first Division II quarterback drafted since the Rams picked Keith Null in the sixth round in 2009 after passing for more than 17,000 yards.
Houston's Clayton Tune was 9-of-12 passing for 70 yards.
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