Whitehurst, Robinson guide North to Senior Bowl win
Jay Cutler just hopes he convinced them that he belongs among the nation's elite quarterbacks despite an uneven performance in the North's 31-14 victory over the South in the Senior Bowl on Saturday.
"I belong in the same group with Leinart and Vince Young, up at the top," Cutler said when asked what he proved during the week's practices. "I think there's a lot of speculation if I can play at the next level with those guys. I think now everybody knows what kind of talent I have and where I might be at the draft."
While most of the quarterbacks struggled at times during the game, Whitehurst and Robinson managed to shine one way or another.
Robinson displayed the running ability that could bode well for a possible position move after a dazzling season at quarterback for Penn State. He led two touchdown drives with his legs, not his arm, and gained 63 yards on nine carries despite a sack.
"I just hope I showed people that I'm a football player and when coached I can go out there and you can put me anywhere and I can succeed," said Robinson, who also started at receiver and running back for the Nittany Lions during his college career. He was 1-of-3 passing for nine yards.
Whitehurst, the North's offensive MVP, directed a seamless drive after Cutler was ineffective on the first two series. The Clemson quarterback was perfect on five attempts for 66 yards, lofting a 15-yard scoring pass to Colorado tight end Joe Klopfenstein and finishing 7-of-9 for 90 yards.
"We were able to kind of methodically take it down the field and answer their first touchdown," Whitehurst said. "It got us back in the game and we were able to roll after that."
Nebraska's Daniel Bullocks recovered two muffed punts, grabbing one in the end zone for a score and setting up the final touchdown with the other in the fourth quarter.
It was a mostly quiet day for two of the top offensive NFL prospects, Cutler and Memphis tailback DeAngelo Williams. Cutler was just 6-of-19 for 69 yards and was intercepted in the end zone by Cedric Griffin of Texas to end the game's opening drive. Cutler did complete a 7-yard TD pass to Arizona State's Derek Hagan with 6:12 left after Bullocks' second fumble recovery.
Williams played sparingly but effectively with three carries for 31 yards. He also took a screen pass 28 yards in the fourth quarter and was the South's offensive MVP.
The overall MVP was Miami receiver Sinorice Moss of the South, who had three catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 27 yards on a reverse and fell on a teammate's fumble, but he'd much rather have come up with a win after the Hurricanes' 40-3 Peach Bowl loss to LSU.
"It's burning me inside right now that I had to lose the football game," Moss said. "I even lost the last game of my Miami career, and I really hate losing."
The defensive MVPs were Georgia Tech's Gerris Wilkinson (South) and Penn State's Tamba Hali (North). Hali had two of the North's five sacks and Wilkinson also had a sack.
The game's two in-state quarterback products both threw touchdown passes for the South. UAB's Darrell Hackney hit a wide-open Devin Aromashodu of Auburn in the left corner of the end zone for a 17-yard score early in the fourth and Alabama's Brodie Croyle hit Moss for a 30-yard TD in the first.
Moss made a nifty juke on a defender to get open on the play.
Tight ends Dominique Byrd of Southern California and Klopfenstein were the North's top receivers. Byrd had four catches for 67 yards and Klopfenstein finished with three receptions for 39 yards.
The South managed only 179 yards as Croyle, Hackney and Georgia's D.J. Shockley all struggled at quarterback.
Croyle stressed how hard it is to overcome turnovers. But, he added: "This game was for the fans, and I guess if you're a North team fan, you've got something to cheer about tonight."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press