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Big Plays Help Gray Earn Win Over Blue

College football: Southeastern Conference players, whose teams failed to qualify for bowl games, lead way in 31-24 victory.

December 26, 1998|From Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — This was a long and disappointing college football season for Auburn and Louisiana State, and players from both teams set out to redeem themselves at the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic.

"Both us and LSU had chances to win the SEC West and it didn't go our way," Auburn cornerback Jayson Bray said. "But it showed a lot of character for the players from both teams who came out here and made the most of it."

Bray had two interceptions and a fumble recovery, LSU linebacker Joe Wesley returned an interception for a touchdown and Auburn receiver Karsten Bailey had the decisive score in the Gray's 31-24 victory over the Blue on Friday.

"I'm glad it was the SEC guys who made the key plays because it goes to show even the worst of the league is pretty good," Bray said.

Bailey and Bray gave the game a homespun flavor by securing the victory for the Gray.

Bailey, who ended the year as Auburn's career reception leader in the Tigers' 3-8 season--their worst since 1952--caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Wake Forest's Brian Kuklick with 5:11 to play to put the Gray ahead, 31-24.

The momentum had swung to the Gray one possession earlier after a goal-line stand.

Delaware's Eddie Conti returned a kickoff 71 yards to the Gray 19-yard line, and the Blue moved the ball to the one on two runs by Temple's Stacey Mack.

But Mack, who already had three touchdowns, was stopped short of the end zone three times. On fourth and goal from the one, Blue quarterback Graham Leigh of New Mexico fumbled and Bray recovered. The Gray then took the lead on Bailey's score.

Wesley got the Gray back in the game. A linebacker for LSU (4-7), Wesley returned an interception 82 yards to make the score 24-24 with 12:31 to play. Bailey was honored as the Gray's most valuable player and Wesley was chosen as the outstanding defensive player.

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