PASADENA, Calif. >> Coastal Carolina’s Shermari Jones had a 5-yard touchdown run and Southeastern Louisiana’s Cole Kelley connected with Indiana’s Peyton Hendershot for the 2-point conversion as the National squad overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit to beat the American 25-24 on Saturday in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Jones powered up the middle on first-and-goal to get the National to 24-23 with 4:07 remaining. Coach Marvin Lewis decided to go for the win, and it paid off.
The game was tied at 17 after three quarters, but USC’s Vavae Malepeai, who prepped at Mililani, put Jeff Fisher’s American team back in the lead on an 18-yard run on which he shook off a couple of tackle attempts in the backfield.
Malepeai carried the ball seven times for 37 yards and caught three passes for 12 yards. Kahuku product Kekaula Kaniho of Boise State also played for the American squad.
Kelley completed 12 of 17 passes for 150 yards and a 47-yard touchdown to Arkansas’ Blake Kern with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter to even it at 17. The National trailed 17-3 in the third quarter and got within a touchdown when Illinois’ Brandon Peters scored on a 2-yard scramble on fourth-and-goal.
Nicholls State’s Dai’Jean Dixon led the American team with six receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. Dixon caught an 11-yard slant pass from Aqeel Glass of Alabama A&M with 9:21 remaining in the second quarter to extend the American’s lead to 14-0. He also hauled in a 47-yard pass from Glass midway through the third quarter.