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American team defeats National squad in 2023 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

A 24-yard field goal by South Dakota's Eddie Ogamba secured a 19-17 victory for the American team in the final seconds of Saturday's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The National team rallied from a 13-point third-quarter deficit to take its first lead of the contest early in the fourth quarter, but back-to-back carries of 20-plus yards by former Wyoming running back Titus Swen and a personal foul penalty in the final minute set up Ogamba's game-winning kick on the final drive of the night.

East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers was named MVP of the annual all-star game after completing 9-of-12 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown for the American team.

"It feels great. I just wanted to come out here and show what I can do, show that I can hang, show that I deserve a spot in this league," Ahlers told NFL Network's Bridget Condon after the game. "Offensive line blocked great when I was in, the receivers caught the ball really well and we just moved the ball.

"I missed a few throws. I didn't have a perfect game. I did feel like I played really well. Showcased my skills all week. Not just this game, but when the scouts were out here, I felt like I performed really well all week. I was just ready to come out here and show the world what I can do."

The game capped off a week-long event for the participating 2023 NFL Draft prospects, including practices in front of 300-plus NFL scouts and NFLPA U sessions on the business of football. The American team was led by former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher, who earned the victory over Eddie George, coach of the National team. George, currently the Tennessee State head coach, played for Fisher during his career with the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans.

"The best part about this is these guys came out here and they had fun for the last two hours and 45 minutes playing this game," Fisher said. "At the same time, they've been able to showcase their skills for the scouts in this upcoming draft."

Georgia Tech linebacker Eley Ayinde's five-yard fumble return for a score put the American team up 16-3 with 5:52 left in the third quarter before the National squad briefly took the lead thanks to a 32-yard TD pass from James Madison's Todd Centeio to Baylor tight end Ben Sims and later a one-yard TD run by Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez.

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