EJ Manuel’s January couldn’t have gone much better on the field. More importantly, he’s hoping for a similarly happy February for his family.
The Florida State quarterback passed for a touchdown and rushed for another on the South’s first two drives in a 21-16 victory over the North at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday, and was named most outstanding player.
Now, he can try to be the most outstanding son. His mother, Jackie Manuel, who was diagnosed with breast cancer before the season, has been recovering from her final round of chemotherapy, and Manuel said she’s scheduled to have surgery Friday.
“That’s kind of been my motivation,” Manuel said. “I call my mom every single day and tell her I love her. I never miss a day.
“They’ll be sending that award home to her. I won that award for her. I went out there and played well for her. I’m happy I was able to do it.”
It was a great finish to a month that began with a 291-yard performance in an Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois.
Manuel and running backs Stepfan Taylor and Mike James combined to put the game for senior NFL prospects away on the South’s final drive. Stanford’s Taylor carried five times for 32 yards and caught a 6-yard pass from Manuel.
Manuel converted a fourth-and-1 play on a sneak to set up a 5-yard touchdown run for Miami’s James with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left. He was 7-for-10 passing for 76 yards with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Alabama tight end Michael Williams. He also scored on a 2-yard run.
Miami of Ohio quarterback Zac Dysert led a North scoring drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Oregon running back Kenjon Barner with 23 seconds left. The two-point conversion and onside kick both failed.
Barner led all receivers with seven catches for 59 yards and gained 13 yards on three carries.
Southeastern Louisiana’s Robert Alford set up Manuel’s 2-yard run with an 88-yard return of the opening kick. Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant chased Alford down to save the touchdown, but three plays later Manuel found the end zone.
Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson continued his conversion to receiver. He lost 3 yards on a reverse but turned a screen pass into a 14-yard gain late in the third quarter and added a 7-yard catch in the fourth.
NUTT GETS $4.35 MILLION
Mississippi agreed to pay former coach Houston Nutt $4.35 million to complete his contract buyout.
Nutt was fired after the 2011 season with about $6 million remaining on his contract. Nutt coached for four seasons at Ole Miss, leading the program to Cotton Bowl wins in 2008 and 2009 before a 2-10 record in his final season.
DUCKS DISMISS DB
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich dismissed defensive back James Scales from the team for a rules violation.
The school was not specific about the violation.
Scales, a sophomore, played in seven games this past season, making six tackles.