Franks-to-Yeboah TD seals National’s 27-24 Senior Bowl win

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MOBILE, Ala. — Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond was the Senior Bowl Most Valuable Player but two fellow Southeastern Conference Western Division products made the decisive big play.

Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Mississippi tight end Kenny Yeboah in the fourth quarter to help seal the National team’s 27- 24 victory over the American team Saturday.

Franks, a graduate transfer from Florida, set up the all-SEC West scoring connection with a 29-yard completion to Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick had six catches for 90 yards in the showcase game for senior and graduate NFL prospects, earning offensive player of the game honors.

Mond was the MVP with a huge third quarter when he passed for 141 of his 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns after a slow start.

“It was a great feeling whether it was a simple drop back or making an insane play,” the former Aggies standout said. “Everything was kind of rolling my way. Obviously, kind of shaky at the beginning but it definitely shows a lot of poise to be able to bounce back.”

North Carolina running back Michael Carter also had a big game. Carter scored on a pile-driving 12-yard run late in the third quarter to help the National retake the lead after a Mond-led comeback.

Jamie Newman completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Trevon Grimes with 49 seconds left for the American team after Franks and Yeboah made it a two-score game. The former Wake Forest quarterback, who transferred to Georgia but opted out before the season, set it up with a 35-yard completion to Bowling Green tight end Quintin Morris.

Tulane defensive lineman Cam Sample was the defensive player of the game. Sample had seven tackles and a share of a sack in a game blending players from Group of Five, small college and Power Five teams.

“We don’t play the Alabama’s or Ohio State’s every week but we’re always hungry,” he said.

The game was played for the first time at South Alabama’s new Hancock Whitney Stadium, with Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores leading the National team and Carolina’s Matt Rhule coaching the American team. It also switched from the traditional North versus South format.

Fitzpatrick delivered in a short-handed group of receivers.

“We were a little bit low on receivers,” Flores said. “A couple of guys went out. Availability is key and he was available and able to capitalize on his opportunities.

Franks completed 9 of 16 passes for 122 yards. Carter averaged 8.0 yards per carry in his final season with the Tar Heels, and wasn’t far off in the all-star game.

He gained 60 yards on eight carries and had two catches for 15 yards.

Mond, Texas A&M’s career passing leader, delivered a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter to help erase a 13-0 halftime deficit. Mond even converted one two-point play with a run and the other with a pass, following touchdowns of 15 yards to Clemson’s Amari Rodgers and 14 yards to Tennessee’s Josh Palmer.

Newman competed 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and interception. They were working behind an offensive line with only six available blockers much of the game.

“I thought when they had time they did a nice job,” Rhule said. “They made some plays under duress, made some big throws. Jamie took us down and scored at the end.

“I don’t think you can really evaluate guys too much based upon a game with that many injuries. I think you need to look at the totality of the week, and I thought the guys were smart, they’re good football players and this was a great step for them.”

The American team was without two of national champion Alabama’s biggest offensive weapons. Quarterback Mac Jones dressed out and went through warmups but didn’t play after injuring his left ankle in Thursday’s final practice.

“My ankle was still stinging a little bit,” Jones, who is a potential first-round pick, said on NFL Network. “I didn’t want to take any big risks.”

Tailback Najee Harris withdrew from the game after practicing Tuesday and Wednesday because of a lingering ankle injury from the national title game earlier in January.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.