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Originally published Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 7:10 PM

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QB Jake Locker has up-and-down outing in Senior Bowl

Locker completed 6 of 10 passes for a team-high 98 yards and led the North's lone touchdown drive in a 24-10 loss, but also had offensive linemen save him by falling on two fumbles.

MOBILE, Ala. — Jake Locker could easily have skipped the Senior Bowl, just as he might have bypassed being a senior altogether.

The former Washington Huskies star is among the candidates to be the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft after an up-and-down senior season. Instead of weighing the risk-reward of a top-tier passer competing in an all-star game with scouts, coaches and team executives scrutinizing your every pass and move, Locker thought it was a no-brainer to play in Saturday's game for senior NFL prospects.

"I just love playing football," he said before the game. "It's an awesome game, and just the opportunity to come play against the best college players. It's an awesome opportunity."

But it wasn't an awesome outcome for his North team, which lost to the South 24-10.

Locker was 6 of 10 for a team-high 98 yards and led the North's lone touchdown drive, but also had offensive linemen save him by falling on two fumbles.

He completed only one of his three attempts on the North's first two drives for a 2-yard gain and a matching loss on a screen pass. He overthrew open tight end Lance Kendricks of Wisconsin across the middle on his first attempt, but was more on target later.

"I thought we got in a little better rhythm, were able to move the ball, got our running game working a little bit better," said Locker, who finished with completions of 15 and 34 yards. "And it allowed us to put some points on the board."

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder threw two touchdown passes, including a clinching 23-yarder to Texas Christian's Jeremy Kerley for the South, earning game MVP honors.

Ponder completed 7 of 13 passes for 132 yards, including several big ones to Leonard Hankerson of Miami, and the final TD with 3:04 left.

Louisville's Bilal Powell was the leading rusher with 50 yards on 10 carries for the South squad.

While Ponder & Co. clicked early, the North didn't have a first down until Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi's 27-yard pass to Kendricks in the final two minutes of the first half.

The North finally got going in the second half.

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Nevada's Colin Kaepernick flashed both his throwing and running skills in the third quarter on the North's first scoring drive. He completed three passes to Ohio State's Dane Sanzenbacher and had an 8-yard run to set up UCLA kicker Kai Forbath's 24-yard field goal.

Then Maryland's Da'Rel Scott scored on a 1-yard run with 19 seconds left in the third after the North got first-and-goal on a pass interference call in the end zone to aid the Locker-led drive and make it 17-10.

Ponder was looking for a happier transition to an NFL career after missing the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with an elbow injury and most of the Seminoles' bowl game because of a concussion.

"I thought I definitely ended on a good note, and hopefully my draft status has gone up a little bit," said Ponder, the game's MVP.

Locker, meanwhile, doesn't hide his ambitions to go first among quarterbacks.

"If you ask anybody, they'd want to be the first guy taken at their position," he said. "That's what you're working toward, but it's outside of all our control. The way I'm approaching it is, I'm going to get better every day and I'm going to do my best to outwork the other guy every day. If that's enough, it's enough."

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