MOBILE, Ala. – The North team coached by the Bears lost the Senior Bowl 16-15 Saturday. But the week in Mobile was a very productive one for John Fox and his staff.
“It was a great experience, just being in the meeting rooms, being around the guys, getting to know them,” the Bears coach said after the game. “It gives you tremendous insight.”
The Bears gained valuable information about some of the top prospects in the draft throughout the week. On Saturday, they may have discovered some defenders who are capable of helping them generate more than the 11 takeaways they produced in 2016.
The North team forced five turnovers Saturday, with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Saint Francis safety Lorenzo Jerome led the way by picking off two passes and forcing a fumble that was recovered by USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu.
Jerome said that the Bears coaching staff emphasized takeaways throughout the week.
“It means a lot to me that I got the two interceptions,” Jerome said. “The coaches said, ‘get the ball back for us to put the offense back on the field,’ so that’s my job to do it and I did it today, so I’m thankful for that and for my teammates.”
After playing at Saint Francis, Jerome needed to adjust to the level of competition at the Senior Bowl.
“It was new to me,” he said. “It was my first time being with big guys like this. The speed was faster, so I had to adjust to it. I had to adapt. But now I’ve got it.”
The offensive star for the North team Saturday was East Carolina receiver Zay Jones, who caught six passes for 68 yards and one touchdown.
With the North trailing 16-9, Jones caught a 6-yard TD pass from Pittsburgh quarterback Nate Peterman with 1:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Peterman’s jump-ball pass on the subsequent two-point conversion was intercepted by South linebacker Harvey Langi of BYU.
Jones nearly scored two other touchdowns in the game. Officials ruled he only got one foot in-bounds in the back of the end zone on a pass from Peterman in the first quarter, and Jones’ apparent 43-yard TD reception from Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard was nullified by a penalty in the second period.
Peterman completed 16 of 23 passes for 153 yards with one TD. The North team rushed for 177 yards on 29 carries, led by Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, who gained 118 yards on 15 attempts. Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez connected on all three field goals he attempted from 22, 29 and 39 yards.
South quarterback Davis Webb of Cal was named the game’s MVP after completing 11 of 16 passes for 165 yards with one TD. Texas A&M receiver Josh Reynolds had six receptions for 96 yards and one TD, while Mississippi State wideout Fred Ross added five catches for 66 yards.