WEB EXCLUSIVE: Nation of Domination: Strong start fuels visitors' win in Texas vs. The Nation
ALLEN -- Team Nation didn't wait long to assert itself over Texas in the sixth installment of Texas vs. The Nation Saturday from Eagle Stadium.
The collegiate all-star game's opening drive set the tone for Nation's 24-13 victory, evening the overall series count at 3-3.
"What a great week," said Bill Bates, Texas head coach. "All the people here in Allen have been so hospitable and have done such a great job in putting this event on and it's only going to get better."
On an afternoon where high-octane offense wasn't exactly the norm, Nation provided whatever scoring sparks were to be had. Those came primarily behind the arm of Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, who was named the game's MVP after slinging 214 yards and two touchdowns.
The first of those scores came within the game's opening three minutes as the quarterback propelled a six-play, 72-yard series that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Bemidji State product Brian Leonhardt for a 7-0 lead.
Leonhardt was a comfy target early on for Griffin, hauling in 62 yards on four catches total to claim the game's Offensive MVP honors.
The game's top defensive honors were bestowed upon Nation defensive lineman and Florida's Earl Okine, whose primary contribution came after he recovered a fumble by Abilene Christian quarterback Mitchell Gale and waltzed 4 yards into the end zone for a 17-0 Nation lead with 10:11 remaining in the second stanza.
The 17 unanswered points would be all Nation needed, paired opposite a Texas offense that struggled to consistently move the ball all afternoon.
The chances were there and the points eventually came, after a special teams turnover forced by East Central Oklahoma product Armonty Bryant set up a 1-yard touchdown run by TCU's Matthew Tucker to trim Nation's lead to 17-13.
Griffin had the answer though, countering with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Syracuse's Marcus Sales to seal the win with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter.
West Texas A&M's Khiry Robinson led all Texas rushers with 24 yards on six carries while Texas A&M senior and Allen alum Uzoma Nwachukwu bagged three receptions for 44 yards.