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Rivals Christian Ponder and Leonard Hankerson complement each other

Florida State’s Christian Ponder, looking for a receiver during the first half, finishes 7-of-13 for 132 yards, including a 48-yard completion and 18-yard touchdown to Miami’s Leonard Hankerson.

Associated Press

Florida State’s Christian Ponder, looking for a receiver during the first half, finishes 7-of-13 for 132 yards, including a 48-yard completion and 18-yard touchdown to Miami’s Leonard Hankerson.

MOBILE, Ala. — Christian Ponder heads to the pros on a high note after all. And he got help from an annual opponent.

The Florida State quarterback threw two touchdowns, including a 23-yarder to TCU's Jeremy Kerley with 3:04 left in the South's 24-10 Senior Bowl victory over the North on Saturday.

Ponder was 7-of-13 for 132 yards, including two big passes to Miami's Leonard Hankerson.

Ponder, who missed the ACC title game with an elbow injury and most of the Chick-fil-A bowl with a concussion, led scoring drives on the South's first two possessions to help build a 17-0 lead.

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

Hankerson caught five passes for 100 yards.

On the game's first play from scrimmage, Ponder hooked up on a 48-yarder to Hankerson, who bobbled the ball before coming down with it. Ponder also ran for two first downs on the drive, which ended with a field goal by LSU's Josh Jasper.

Ponder hit Hankerson for an 18-yard touchdown on the second drive. Hankerson, who became the third Hurricane with 1,000 yards in a season and broke Michael Irvin's school record with 13 touchdown catches, caught a 14-yard pass during the South's final scoring drive.

"I feel like I helped myself a lot by coming here," Hankerson said; "being focused, getting in the playbook, making plays for the team and just having fun."

Washington quarterback Jake Locker, likely among the first quarterbacks drafted, led a touchdown drive, but he also had offensive linemen save him by falling on two fumbles for the North in an uneven performance.

Locker, who returned for his senior season despite being projected to be drafted high, completed only one of his three passes during the North's first two drives. And that went for 2 yards. But he finished 6-of-10 for 98 yards.

"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 had completions of 15 and 34 yards. "And it allowed us to put some points on the board."

Alabama: Former Crimson Tide standout and Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom is a candidate to become receivers coach, the Tuscaloosa News reported. Croom, 56, has been the Rams' running backs coach for the past two seasons.

Kentucky: Tee Martin, who quarterbacked Tennessee to a national title in 1998, signed a contract extension and will move from receivers coach to passing game coordinator. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Martin joined Joker Phillips' staff last season after being New Mexico's quarterbacks coach for one season.

Rivals Christian Ponder and Leonard Hankerson complement each other 01/29/11 [Last modified: Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:37pm]
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