Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kicker Named MVP of 2016 NFLPA Bowl

Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett was named MVP of the 2016 NFLPA Bowl game.
Mizzou kicker Andrew Baggett holds MVP Trophy
CARSON, Calif. -- Kickers are people too! In this case, National kicker Andrew Baggett was the most important person on the field as he scored all of his team’s points in an 18-17 victory over American in the NFLPA Bowl game Saturday night in Carson, California.

The kicker from Missouri connected six of seven field goals in the game, including the game winner with 11:02 remaining in the game. Baggett was successful on game-long 50 yarder, which likely got the attention of NFL scouts.
“I like from the very get-go the coaches said, ‘This is an audition,’” said Bagget who was named the NFLPA Bowl MVP. “We’re out here getting ready to go like we’re preparing for an NFL camp… They treated us like they treat any NFL kicker or special teams unit.”

The American team was in complete control throughout the early part of the game. They scored on three of their first four drives. Jacobi Greene, from Richmond University, powered his way in for a 3-yard touchdown run. The touchdown punctuated a drive that started on the 14 yard line due to TCU’s Travone Boykin’s intercepted pass.

Boykin struggled mightily while trying to find a passing rhythm and didn’t see any action after the first two drives.  This only adds doubt to NFL personnel who were questioning if he can play quarterback on the next level.

Northwestern State’s Stephen Rivers, younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, entered the game and commanded a 77-yard scoring drive. Rivers put his strong arm on display by completing a 23 yard pass to Washington’s Jaydon Mickens. The drive was culminated with soft 12 yard touchdown pass to the left corner of the end zone to Mickens, who had three receptions for 49 yards on that drive.  At this point in the game American held a 17-6 lead.

The National defense took over and shut down the American side for rest of game. The defensive linemen wrecked havoc by forcing fumbles and laying continuous hits on the quarterback.

National running backs, coached by Ray Rice and Priest Holmes, also made a good showing of themselves in the game as they accumulated 151 yards on the ground.

“Ball control is the key to the game,” said Rice on the field after the game. “I had to get them right!”

However, the rushing attack only did so much for team National as their drives continued to bog down as they approached the end zone. Failing third-down conversion attempts across the American 30 yard line and Baggett field goal attempts were akin to rinse and repeat instructions to winning for the Mike Martz coached team. This paved the way for an MVP performance for the team’s kicker.

“Games like this don’t usually happen,” said Baggett. “It’s cool to get a shot at field goals like that. Hopefully some people thought I did enough.”

Baggett connected on field goal tries of 42, 50, 42, 39, 24, and 23 yards. He only missed from 54 yards out early in the 3rd quarter.

Ammon Olsen of Southern Utah was the leading passer for team National with 75 yards.

Travis Greene of Bowling Green made a few impressive runs and led the game with 53 yards rushing. Stanford’s Remound Wright chipped in with 38 yards on just seven carries.

Rivers finished with 96 yards passing for Mike Holmgren’s American team.

Jordan Williams of Ball State was the game’s leading receiver with 54 yards on 5 catches for American.

This is the second consecutive win for Mike Martz, whose National team won 17-0 in 2015.

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