MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Dee Ford prefers to keep things simple: Play hard and fast, and let others worry about his NFL draft stock.
That approach certainly worked at the Senior Bowl.
The Auburn defensive end had two first-half sacks, and Derek Carr and David Fales each threw a touchdown pass in the South’s 20-10 victory over the North on Saturday.
Ford, who earned positive reviews from observers during the week, quickly dismissed a reporter’s suggestion that he made some money in the draft with his performance.
“I don’t do this for cash,” said Ford, selected the game’s MVP. “I do this for pride. I do this because I really, really want to be great. The money will come. I’m just all about perfecting what I do.
“I’ve still got a lot of work. I’ve got the combine and pro day. My life doesn’t stop here. I’ve got to be consistent.”
The showcase game for top senior NFL prospects was mostly dominated by the defenses. The South racked up five sacks of Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas and intercepted three North passes. Princeton’s Caraun Reid also had two sacks.
“Just talking to the linemen, they said these guys are kind of quick coming off the ball,” Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd of the North said. “You’ve got to go out there and try to help those guys out.”
Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Fales of San Jose State and received the South’s Most Outstanding Player honors.
Wisconsin’s James White scored on a 1-yard run with 6:04 left for the North’s only touchdown. He was selected the North’s MOP after rushing for 62 yards on 11 carries and making five catches for 15 yards.
“I wanted to come out here and prove that I could do it all as a running back: Pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, run inside and run outside,” White said. “I think I did it pretty well this week.”
Ford, meanwhile, couldn’t quite do it all: He batted down a pass in the backfield deep in North territory that would have been a sure touchdown if he’d held onto it.
“I could have had a TD,” said Ford, who still celebrated the play with a little dance. “I couldn’t find the ball. That’s stuff I need to work on.”
Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews briefly interrupted an interview to hand Ford a football.
“Game ball, baby,” Matthews told him. “I got that for you.”
Offensively, it looked just like what it was: an all-star game with players trying to get in sync with only a few days of practice.
The quarterbacks who made the fewest mistakes won the day as the South built a 20-3 lead.
Fresno State’s Carr started fast with three straight completions on the South’s opening drive. He capped the march with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Colorado State tight end Crockett Gillmore and finished 7 of 12 for 45 yards.
“He was so open, I just wanted to get the ball in his hands and let him go,” Carr said.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s first two drives ended with field goals of 50 and 39 yards by Auburn’s Cody Parkey. Garoppolo, MVP of the East-West Shrine Game out of Tony Romo’s alma mater, was a late addition to the roster after Alabama’s AJ McCarron declined an invitation.
Garoppolo was 6-of-11 passing for 32 yards.
Miami’s Stephen Morris was 10 of 18 for a game-high 89 yards but also was intercepted twice. Boyd was 7 of 16 for 31 yards with an interception.
Thomas only got five passes off, completing four for 17 yards.
“I don’t think I had much time to do anything with it,” he said.
Ford, who also had two sacks in the BCS championship, Parkey and Chris Davis all made a big impact a few weeks after their Auburn team lost to Florida State in the title game. Davis had an interception.
They left this one in a better mood.
“It was a great week for Auburn,” Davis said. “Any time you get to come to an event like this, you want to showcase your talent. I think for the Auburn team, we did that.”
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press