Boise State rolls to 55-7 win in Poinsettia Bowl

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jeremy McNichols scored three touchdowns, the first one just 58 seconds into the game, and finished with 189 total yards as Boise State embarrassed Northern Illinois 55-7 in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday.

This one was essentially over when Northern Illinois won the coin toss and deferred, allowing Boise State to get the ball first and unleash its talented offense.

The Broncos (9-4) needed just three plays to score the first TD, the fastest in school bowl history. After completions of 7 and 39 yards by Brett Rypien, McNichols scampered in from 29 yards.

McNichols and the Broncos kept piling on as the back from Long Beach scored on each of the next two possessions, on a 4-yard pass from Rypien and on a 1-yard run.

McNichols ran 19 times for 93 yards and caught five passes for 96 yards. He came in tied with Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry of Alabama for the national lead with 23 TDs.

Rypien was 29 of 40 for 377 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.

The Broncos outgained the Huskies (8-6) 654 yards to 33.

The Huskies added to their misery by losing three fumbles in the first half. Tyler Gray recovered two of them.

The Huskies avoided a shutout when Aregeros Turner returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-7 midway through the second quarter.

The announced crowd of 21,501 was swallowed up by 70,000-seat Qualcomm Stadium.

The Broncos led 31-7 at halftime after Tyler Rausa’s 20-yard field goal and Rypien’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Chaz Anderson.

Rypien added an 18-yard scoring pass to Alec Dhaenens in the third quarter.

The reserves took over in the fourth quarter. Backup running back Kelsey Young scored on a 24-yard run and backup quarterback Thomas Stuart scored on a 1-yard keeper.

Boise State improved to 1-1 in the Poinsettia Bowl, while Northern Illinois dropped to 0-3.


GoDaddy Bowl

Georgia Southern 58,

Bowling Green 27

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Georgia Southern quarterback Favian Upshaw blew past Bowling Green’s defensive line and linebackers and split two safeties, showing off impressive speed on his way to the end zone.

But as his 80-yard touchdown run neared completion he slowed down a little and was nearly caught.

“I started out pretty fast,” Upshaw said, grinning. “But I got a little tired there at the end.”

It’s hard to blame him. After all, he wasn’t used to running that much.

Usually the backup quarterback with a limited role, Upshaw ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns to lead Georgia Southern over Bowling Green 58-27 in the GoDaddy Bowl on Wednesday night.

Georgia Southern (9-4) won the first bowl game in school history in the first year it was eligible to go to the postseason. The program transitioned to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2014.

The Eagles prevailed thanks to their trademark running game. They had 452 yards rushing to top their nation-best season average of 355.6 yards.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Upshaw, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, usually splits time with starter Kevin Ellison. But he had a much bigger role against Bowling Green — especially in the second half.

In the team’s previous 12 games Upshaw had run for a total of 384 yards and two touchdowns.

“Favian had the hot hand,” Georgia Southern interim coach Dell McGee said. “He was reading the zone option really well and we just felt we should go with him.”

Bowling Green (10-4) led 27-23 at halftime, but Georgia Southern scored the final 35 points.

Bowling Green was undone by a brutal stretch in the third quarter that included two fumbles by quarterback Matt Johnson deep in the Falcons’ own territory.

It helped Georgia Southern score three touchdowns — including two by Upshaw — in three minutes and turned a 30-27 game into a blowout.

The game was tight for much of the evening, but Georgia Southern started to pull away late in the third quarter when Upshaw’s 80-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a 37-27 lead.

Then Bowling Green — specifically Johnson — fumbled away any chance at a comeback on a rain-soaked evening at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

“It was the third quarter from hell,” Johnson said.

Johnson fumbled on Bowling Green’s 14 when he lost the ball as he winding up to make a pass. Georgia Southern scored two plays later when Matt Breida ran for a 1-yard touchdown to push the advantage to 44-27.

On the ensuing drive, Johnson fumbled again when trying to make a handoff at the Bowling Green 10. Two players later, Upshaw ran for the 8-yard touchdown and the rout was essentially complete.

It was a surprising turn of events considering the first two quarters were full of interesting and sometimes off-the-wall, back-and-forth football.

The Falcons’ first touchdown came on a botched play when a bad snap forced Johnson to abandon a planned running play. He regrouped and scrambled to his right before throwing to Roger Lewis for the easy 45-yard touchdown.

Georgia Southern had its share of interesting moments, too. The Eagles blocked a Bowling Green extra point and Matt Dobson returned it 98 yards for the rare two-point score.

The Eagles briefly took a 23-20 lead late in the second quarter when they scored on a 31-yard pass from Ellison to Montay Crockett, which was only the team’s fourth passing touchdown this season.

Bowling Green responded with a quick touchdown drive — capped by Travis Greene’s 5-yard run — to take a 27-23 lead into halftime.

But the rain became more consistent after the break and Georgia Southern took advantage, capitalizing on Johnson’s fumbles and slowly grinding away for their first bowl victory.

Georgia Southern was an FCS-level powerhouse before jumping up to the FBS in 2014. The transition has been impressive — the Eagles have an 18-7 record over the past two seasons.

Bowling Green, which won the Mid-American Conference championship, was outgained 534 yards to 362. Johnson was 15 of 34 passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

He finished the season with 4,946 yards passing, falling just short of becoming the 15th quarterback at the FBS level to throw for 5,000 yards in a season.


Boca Raton Bowl

Toledo 32,

Temple 17

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — A pile of players wrestled to recover the onside kick at midfield, and the Temple Owls celebrated when an official signaled the ball was theirs.

Then the referee changed the call, and possession was awarded to Toledo.

“I thought we had the onside kick,” Temple coach Matt Rhule said. “I still think we had it.”

The ruling halted the Owls’ comeback bid, and No. 24 Temple lost Tuesday to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl, 32-17.

Temple (10-4) sputtered offensively for much of the night and lost for the fourth time in seven games after starting 7-0.

“I’m never going to shake my head at winning 10 games,” Rhule said. “But we didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish.”

Toledo’s Phillip Ely threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder to Cody Thompson. The Rockets (10-2), a Mid-American Conference team, positioned themselves to crack the final Top 25 for the first time since 2001, the last season they won 10 games.

“Our team deserves to be in that conversation,” coach Jason Candle said. “Tonight we put an exclamation point on a great season.”

Candle was promoted from offensive coordinator three weeks ago when Matt Campbell took over at Iowa State.

Frequent driving rain hampered both offenses, but Ely went 20 for 28 with no turnovers.

Linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley’s jarring tackle sent the ball squirting backward 15 yards through the end zone for an early safety, and the hits kept coming from the Rockets, who blitzed on virtually every play. Temple, of the American Athletic Conference, came into the game averaging 31 points but didn’t reach the end zone until less than three minutes remained.

“Early on we played really good defense,” Rhule said. “And then we had that safety, and everything changed.”

Jahad Thomas, who came into the game with 1,257 yards rushing for Temple, hurt his knee late in the first half and didn’t return.

“When you lose a guy like Jahad, you lose someone that can make a difference in the game,” Temple quarterback P.J. Walker said.

Thomas was held to 5 yards on eight carries, and his fumble led to the safety.

Toledo entered the game ranked third in the nation in red zone defense, and three times the Rockets held Temple to short field goals.

The Rockets were nursing a 12-9 lead in the final period when they started at their 20 following a 71-yard punt. Thompson slipped behind the secondary, caught Ely’s pass in stride at his 40 and veered untouched to the end zone.

“It was a heck of a throw, and the kid outran us,” Rhule said.

The Rockets’ Thompson recovered the onside kick following Temple’s touchdown.

“I had it the whole time,” Thompson said with a straight face as his teammates laughed.

“I thought we got it,” Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich said. “The refs at first said we had it, but unfortunately then they said we didn’t get it. You just have to deal with it.”

Following the recovery, Kareem Hunt scored on a 41-yard run to seal the victory.

Toledo’s Corey Jones broke five tackles to turn a short reception into a 26-yard score in the first half.

“There’s a little bit of anger, a little bit of sadness,” Temple defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis said, “pretty much all the emotions at this point.”


Potato Bowl

Akron 23,

Utah State 21

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Robert Stein made three field goals and Jatavis Brown led a smothering defense as Akron earned its first victory in a bowl, a 23-21 over Utah State on Tuesday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Stein, who became the school’s career scoring leader with 268 points, connected from 29, 33 and 46 yards, and was selected the game’s MVP. His longest kick gave the Zips a 23-14 with 8:15 remaining.

Akron (8-5) finished with eight wins for the first time since moving up to FBS in 1987. The record came four years to the day after the school hired coach Terry Bowden.

While Stein provided the difference in scoring, it was Akron’s defense that made the lead stick.

Brown, the MAC defensive player of the year, had eight tackles along with 1 1/2 sacks, 2 1/2 tackles for loss, and a critical forced fumble.

Utah State (6-7) mounted a comeback behind senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Sharp with 1:12 remaining to pull to 23-21. But Akron recovered the onside kick and then stopped one final flea flicker play by Utah State as time expired.

While Akron averaged less than 200 yards passing per game this season, the Zips turned to the air to score the game’s first points.

After an incompletion, Zips quarterback Thomas Woodson hit A.J. Coney on a 42-yard pass play. On the next play, Akron dug into its bag of tricks, scoring when receiver Tyrell Goodman hit Woodson with a 14-yard pass for the 7-0 lead.

Utah State struggled to generate any offense early as the Aggies, going through three-and-out for minus-5 yards on their first four possessions.

The Aggies, however, got a spark after a long punt return by Sharp set up Utah State at the Akron 31. But on third-and-8 from the Zips 18, Akron cornerback Kris Givens ripped an apparent touchdown catch out of Brandon Swindall’s arms. Utah State elected to go for a first down instead of kick a field goal, but the Akron defense held.

The Zips responded with a 12-play, 59-yard drive that ended in a 33-yard field goal by Stein, pushing their lead to 10-0.

Utah State wasted little time in answering. Devante Mays broke off a career-long 61-yard run before Jatavis Brown caught him at the Akron 10. Two plays later, Kent Myers hit Swindall on a 9-yard pass play. Brock Warren’s extra point cut the deficit to 10-7 with 1:21 left in the half.

On Akron’s next possession, Utah State’s defense stiffened and forced a punt with 1:00 left in the half, using two time outs to preserve time on the clock.

However, it was a plan that backfired.

With Utah State on the Akron 28, Brown stripped the ball loose from Myers, and Akron defensive tackle Rodney Coe scooped up the ball and rambled 56 yards to the Aggies 12 with 4 seconds left in the half.

Stein booted a 29-yard field goal as time expired to give the Zips a 13-7 lead.

In the second half, Utah State took its first possession 64 yards in seven plays, scoring on a 19-yard pass play from Meyers to Sharp. Warren’s extra point gave the Aggies their first lead of the game at 14-13.

Akron’s offense could muster only two yards on its next possession, but found new life after the Zips’ defense recovered a fumble at the Utah State 40.

Eight plays later, Donnell Alexander sprinted into the end zone from 2 yards out to help the Zips regain the lead at 20-14 with 5:43 left in the third quarter.

Keeton and Myers combined for 28-of-45 passing for 232 yards and three touchdowns, while Woodson was 14 of 29 for 168 yards.

Andrew Pratt set a career high with nine receptions for 94 yards to lead the Zips. Hunter Sharp had 11 catches for 91 yards.

Mays led Utah State on the ground with 124 yards on 12 carries, while Woodson rushed for 47 yards to lead Akron.


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