NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: National team dominates team America in 27-7 win

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl 2017
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Potential late-round NFL draft picks from across the NCAA showcased their talents for hundreds of NFL scouts and fans in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl held at the Stubhub Center on Saturday.

The all-star game finished with a 27-7 victory for the National team, led by former NFL coach Mike Martz. The American team, coached by former NFL head coach Jim Zorn, did not score until a late touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Nationals defense started the second-half with 15-yard scoop and score from SJSU linebacker Isaiah Irving on the first play of the third quarter.

Later in the third, the Nationals team continued the momentum with a touchdown from Virginia running back Taquan Mizzell. Mizzell finished the game with 96 yards and a TD on 10 carries, according to USA Today.

South Dakota kicker Miles Bergner added two field goals for the Nationals. Bergner connected on a 45-yard field goal in the second-half and a 27-yard field goal in the first-half.

Team America’s only touchdown came from a 13-yard touchdown reception from New Mexico running back Tariyon Gipson in the third quarter. The younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson registered 64 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards on three receptions in the Collegiate Bowl.

At halftime, the National team held a 0-10 lead over the American squad. The Nationals would have had a bigger lead as they  dominated time of possession controlling the ball for 19:25 in the first half.

However, three first half interceptions by the Nationals kept the Americans in reach. Nelson threw one and Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. added another two interceptions for the Nationals in the first half.

St. Francis (PA) corner Lorenzo Jerome had two interceptions for team America. He would go on to win the MVP award for the game, despite his team losing.

After the game, Jerome credited his coaching staff for helping him learn different coverages during the game and week of practice.

“At the end of the day, it was great football,” Jerome said about his experience in the NFLPA Bowl via the post-game press conference. “I’m thankful.”

Fellow American corner Joshua Thornton, Southern Utah, also got a pick in the second quarter.

The lone first-half touchdown play came via a one-yard touchdown run from Eastern Carolina quarterback Philip Nelson on the National’s first drive. Nelson completed 11 of 18 passes for 102 yards and one interception over the entire contest.

Martz said he is convinced that Nelson is a starter in the NFL.

“He’s got no flaws to him,” Martz said after the game. “… Someone is gonna get a gem with this young man.”

As for the Americans, their lone offensive sparks in the first-half came from Gipson. He finished the first two quarters with 44 yards on the ground.

Other players who made impression included Georgia defensive back Maurice Smith with the Nationals. Smith had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter, and he led his team in tackles at halftime.

Martz also mentioned the National offensive line as an impressive group in the game and practice. The o-line helped his team finish the bowl with 213 rushing yards on 42 carries. Martz said the whole group amazed him during the week of practice.

“These offensive linemen I keep going back to, there are some guys who are going to make it,” Martz said. “I promise you.”

He also said the talent has gotten better each year. Martz also named Ohio State receiver Dontre Wilson as an “outstanding player” from the week of practice.

The StubHub Center, which will become the new temporary home for the San Diego Chargers this fall, was mostly quiet and empty for the National’s blowout win.

When asked about the prospect of playing for one of L.A.’s NFL teams, Jerome said he wants to make any NFL team’s 53-man roster.

“It’s kind of chilly out here,” Jerome said in his post-game press conference. “It was getting cold towards the end of the game.”

The 2017 game was the sixth installment of the Collegiate Bowl. The National team has won each year, and this was Martz’s third-consecutive win as head coach.

Martz said he promises players to run the week of practice like the NFL. He said he the coaches teach them the skills that players need for NFL camp.

NFL alumni who have participated in the NFLPA Bowl include Marquette King and Chris Conley.


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Pete D. Camarillo is currently a credentialed Lakers writer for SportsOutWest and co-host of the weekly Touchdowns and Tangents podcast. Pete enjoys creating content about music, life and West Coast Sports, specifically the NBA and NFL. He has published more than 1,000 articles across various publications including ClutchPoints, FullPressCoverage, TheSportsDaily, Fansided and Inquistr. Pete is also currently a full-time media relations professional for Business Wire and he is active in ONA, SPJ, NABJ and AAJA organizations in Los Angeles. The 2015 CSUN Journalism grad volunteers on his Journalism Alumni Association Board of Directors now. His background includes community relations with the L.A. Clippers during the 2014-15 season. studying sports management, football coaching and earning a fellowship for his entrepreneurship ventures. Follow him on Twitter @petecertified.

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