MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Washington State cornerback Chau Smith-Wade returned an interception 83 yards in the final two minutes to set up a decisive score and secure the National's 16-7 victory over the American team in the Senior Bowl on Saturday.
In a game dominated by the defenses, Smith-Wade sprawled out to pick off a deep ball from Tennessee's Joe Milton III. He hesitated momentarily before realizing he wasn't officially down under NFL rules.
Then he shook off one tackle attempt on the right sideline and cut back across the field before TCU running back Emani Bailey stopped him at the 1 with 1:38 left.
“I got up and it’s not college anymore where you’re down,” said Smith-Wade, who was named the National’s player of the game. “You’ve got to be down by contact now. So I got up, I started to celebrate a little bit and my teammates were like, ‘Go, go, go.’”
The offense couldn't punch it in, but Joshua Karty of Stanford made his third field goal, scoring on kicks of 19, 37 and 52 yards.
Smith-Wade got his second pick on a Hail Mary pass into the end zone by Tulane's Michael Pratt.
It wasn't a big game for the quarterbacks, with the top-rated passers seeing only limited action in the game for NFL prospects.
Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. opted not to play. The Heisman Trophy runner-up did participate in practices this week after leading the Huskies to the national championship game.
Fellow Pac-12 Conference star Oregon's Bo Nix, who was third in the Heisman voting, played only two series. So did South Carolina's Spencer Rattler for the American team.
Nix, who started his career a few hours away at Auburn, completed 4 of 5 passes for 21 yards in two series. His final play was a 2-yard touchdown to Minnesota tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford when he rolled out before firing up the middle. It was the team's only TD.
“He's just absolutely a winner,” said National coach Jeff Ulbrich, the New York Jets defensive coordinator.
Rattler completed all four of his attempts for 65 yards and earned Game MVP honors in the loss. He capped his first drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Georgia's Marcus-Rosemy-Jacksaint in a connection between Southeastern Conference Eastern Division rivals.
“I felt like I wanted to come out here, create relationships and have fun,” Rattler said. "This was just the cherry on top."
None of the other quarterbacks was as effective.
Milton was 9-of-13 passing for 80 yards for the American team but was intercepted twice.
Notre Dame's Sam Hartman played most of the way for the National team. He went 7 of 25 for 69 yards with an interception.
TCU's Bailey had four runs and a catch totaling 35 yards on the American team's first five plays. He finished with 53 yards on 10 carries and four catches for another 34 yards.
Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith was the American team's MVP after breaking up three passes.
Florida State defensive tackle Braden Fiske switched sides Saturday morning to the National team because of roster attrition. He had four tackles, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and was in on a sack.
It was the game’s first sellout since 2010, when Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was on the roster. Players wore helmets with stickers featuring a parrot drinking a margarita to honor the late Mobile native Jimmy Buffett.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football