ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The players on Pittsburgh’s sideline were jumping and cheering as Quadree Henderson ran 100 yards with the opening kickoff of the Military Bowl.
Unfortunately, the Panthers spent the remainder of the day trying — unsuccessfully — to stop Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
Reynolds wrapped up his record-setting college career at Navy in spectacular fashion, running for three touchdowns and throwing for another Monday to lead the Midshipmen to a 44-28 victory.
Reynolds ran for 144 yards on 24 carries, completed 9 of 17 passes for 126 yards and had a reception for 47 yards on a trick play.
“He’s a super football player,” Panthers first-year coach Pat Narduzzi said. “Make no mistake, there were reasons he was in the (running) for the Heisman Trophy.”
Reynolds leaves Navy (11-2) as the Football Bowl Subdivision career leader with 88 touchdowns and 530 points. His 4,559 yards rushing are the most by a quarterback in Division I history.
Qadree Ollison rushed for 73 yards and scored two touchdowns for Pitt (8-5). Nate Peterman threw a TD pass but was intercepted three times.
The Panthers’ problem was that they couldn’t back up Henderson’s quick score.
“You feel like you have the momentum and you start fast, then we just couldn’t get anything going in the first half offensively,” Narduzzi said. “We got things going in the second half, but with a missed field goal and three interceptions, you aren’t going to win many football games.”
After Henderson went the distance, Navy took a 21-7 halftime lead and made it 31-7 midway through the third quarter.
Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns in 17 seconds to close to 31-21, but could not complete the comeback.
It was 38-28 when Reynolds capped a nine-play drive with a 9-yard run with 4:19 remaining. The TD broke a tie with Kenneth Dixon of Louisiana Tech atop the career chart.
“To be able to seal the game and get the record at the same time is pretty cool,” the 5-foot-11 senior said.
With Reynolds leading the way, the Midshipmen completed their first 11-win season in 135 years of football. That, more than all his personal accomplishments, is what he will remember.
“You play the game to win, so the record for wins is the one that means the most to me,” Reynolds said.
It was the first game for the Midshipmen since they beat Army and coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to stay at Navy instead of taking the head coaching job at Brigham Young.
Niumatalolo was glad he stuck around for Reynolds’ finale.
“All of Keenan’s accolades are well deserved,” the coach said. “What an unbelievable career he’s had. Once in a generation, some of the things he’s done. We’re going to miss him.”
Playing before a sellout crowd of 36,352 in its home stadium, Navy used its triple-option attack to overwhelm a team that went 6-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and ranked 20th in the nation against the run. The Midshipmen finished with 590 yards in offense, including 417 on the ground — 114 by fullback Chris Swain.
It’s not the way Narduzzi wanted to end his first season at Pitt.
“Just have to keep getting one step closer,” he said. “You just have to take one step at a time. Told the seniors, they laid the foundation. We’ve done a lot of great things this year.”
Two short TD runs and an 11-yard scoring pass to Tyler Carmona provided Navy with a 21-7 lead.
Niumatalolo momentarily abandoned the triple option in the third quarter in favor of a bit of trickery. Reynolds pitched the ball to fullback Shawn White, then went around the right side of the line for a catch-and-run that set up a 26-yard touchdown jaunt by Demond Brown.
“I was glad I actually caught the ball,” Reynolds said.
It was 31-7 before eterman threw a 4-yard TD pass to Ollison, and a 22-yard fumble return by Jordan Whitehead got Pitt within 10 points.
After Navy scored another touchdown, Ollison ran for a 45-yard score to make it 38-28.
But this was to be Reynolds’ day. In his final significant drive with the Midshipmen, he converted three third downs and drew the Panthers offside on a fourth-and-3.
Soon after that, he walked off the field for the final time.
“We can come back for our 20-year reunion,” Reynolds said, “and talk about it and just kick back and laugh.”
Quick Lane Bowl
Central Michigan 14
DETROIT (AP) — Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner ran 13 yards for a touchdown with 4:26 remaining, and the Golden Gophers held on for a 21-14 win over Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl on Monday night.
Minnesota (6-7) ended a trying season on a positive note. Coach Jerry Kill retired in late October because of continued difficulty managing his epilepsy and his job. The Gophers were 5-7 after the regular season but were able to play on because not enough teams reached six wins to fill all the bowls.
All three teams that went to bowls at 5-7 — Minnesota, Nebraska and San Jose State — ended up winning them.
Central Michigan (7-6) took a 14-13 lead with 11:08 remaining on a 13-yard touchdown run by Romello Ross. Minnesota responded by driving 74 yards in 13 plays.
Leidner ran for the go-ahead touchdown, then threw to KJ Maye for a 2-point conversion.
Virginia Tech 55,
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Michael Brewer threw for 344 yards, Isaiah Ford had 227 yards receiving and Frank Beamer won in his coaching finale, leading Virginia Tech past Tulsa in the Independence Bowl.
The 69-year-old Beamer announced in November he would retire following the season. He finished with a 238-121-2 record at Virginia Tech over 29 seasons.
Virginia Tech (7-6) was playing in a bowl for the 23rd straight season. The first game of that streak also was in the Independence Bowl in 1993, when the Hokies beat Indiana 45-20.
This trip to Shreveport was filled with plenty of offense, but had more drama.
Tulsa (6-7) rallied from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half to pull to 55-52 with 3:47 left. Virginia Tech’s Dadi L’homme Nicolas ended Tulsa’s final drive with a sack of Dane Evans on fourth down.
The 107 points were the most in Independence Bowl history. Ford’s 227 yards receiving on 12 catches set an Independence Bowl record.
Tulsa’s Evans completed 27 of 44 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. D’Angelo Brewer ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Foster Farms Bowl
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Nebraska cap a losing season by beating UCLA 37-29 in the Foster Farms Bowl on Saturday night.
The Cornhuskers (6-7) scored 30 straight points after falling behind 21-7 early to overpower the Bruins (8-5) and provide a happy ending to coach Mike Riley’s first season.
Stanley Morgan Jr. gave Nebraska the lead for good with a one-handed, 22-yard catch in the third quarter and Imani Cross, Terrell Newby and Andy Janovich all ran for scores for the Cornhuskers.
Armstrong completed 12 of 19 passes for 174 yards and ran for 76 more to lead the way for Nebraska, which had a season high with 326 yards rushing.
Josh Rosen threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns for the Bruins. They ended what had once been a promising season with losses to Southern California and in the bowl game.
Nebraska only got in a bowl because there were not enough six-win teams to fill all 80 slots.
Duke 44, Indiana 41 (OT)
NEW YORK (AP) — Ross Martin kicked a 36-yard field goal in overtime, and Duke won a bowl game for the first time in 54 years with a 44-41 victory over Indiana on Saturday in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
After Martin made his kick on the first possession of the extra period, the Hoosiers’ Griffin Oakes missed a 38-yard attempt to hand the Blue Devils their first bowl victory since the 1961 Cotton Bowl.
Oakes’ try sailed over the right upright and was ruled wide. Oakes protested that it was good, but the kick could not be reviewed, and Duke’s players poured onto the field to celebrate.
Shaun Wilson had 282 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns for the Blue Devils (8-5), including a 98-yard kickoff return. Quarterback Thomas Sirk accounted for 318 yards and three touchdowns before getting hurt in overtime. His 5-yard TD run tied it with 41 seconds left.
Oakes then missed a 55-yard potential winning attempt at the end of regulation.
Indiana finished the season 6-7.
Washington State 20,
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Luke Falk threw two touchdown passes to lead Washington State past Miami in the snowy Sun Bowl.
Erik Powell added field goals of 30 and 25 yards to help the Cougars (9-4) win a bowl games for the first time since the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
Miami (8-5) lost its sixth consecutive bowl game.
Washington State led 20-7 at the half and looked in total control, limiting Miami to three first downs over the second and third quarters.
The Hurricanes rallied in a blizzard in the fourth. Braxton Berrios’ 60-yard end-around run set up Mark Walton’ 5-yard scoring run that cut it to 20-14 with 13:10 left.
Miami had a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brad Kaaya to Stacy Coley called back on a penalty with 5:14 to play. Two players later, Washington State’s Marcellus Pippins recovered Walton’s fumble at 5. After a Cougars punt, the Hurricanes were at the Washington State 28, but an end-over-end halfback pass from Joe Yearby was easily intercepted by Shalom Lunai with 2:58 to play.
Falk, the game’s MVP, was 29 of 53 for 295 yards and no interceptions. He threw touchdown passes of 31 yards to running back Jamal Morrow and 25 yards to receiver Gabe Marks.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Southern Miss 31
DALLAS (AP) — Myles Gaskin broke a third-quarter tie with an 86-yard run and had a season-high 181 yards and four touchdowns to help Washington beat Southern Mississippi in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The Huskies (7-6) won their last two regular-season games by a combined 97-17 over Oregon State and Washington State to become bowl eligible and then delivered Chris Petersen’s first postseason victory in his two seasons at Washington.
Gaskin’s other scores came on 2- and 1-yard runs in the first quarter and a 13-yarder in the fourth. On the 86-yarder, the freshman took a handoff inside, broke to the left sideline and shook off one final defender at the Southern Miss 35.
Nick Mullens threw touchdowns passes of 56 and 27 yards by Michael Thomas for Southern Miss (9-5), and Ito Smith added 1- and 2-yard scoring runs.