Mis­sis­sippi State blocks field goal in fi­nal sec­onds to beat Mi­ami (Ohio) in thriller.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

st. peters­burg, fla.» Mis­sis­sippi State’s side­line erupted in cel­e­bra­tion, re­lieved to es­cape with a vic­tory to end a chal­leng­ing sea­son.

Nick Fitzger­ald rushed for 142 yards and two touch­downs in another strong per­for­mance by the dual-threat quar­ter­back; how­ever, the heav­ily fa­vored Bull­dogs had to block a field goal in the clos­ing sec­onds to hold off Mi­ami (Ohio) 17-16 in the St. Peters­burg Bowl on Mon­day.

“Great game. Not ex­actly how we drew it up,” coach Dan Mullen said after de­fen­sive tackle Nel­son Adams got a hand on Nick Dowd’s po­ten­tial game-win­ning kick that would have helped Mi­ami fin­ish a stun­ning turn­around from a 0-6 start to the sea­son to a win­ning record.

In­stead, both the Bull­dogs and the RedHawks, who won six straight games to be­come bowl el­i­gi­ble, fin­ished with los­ing marks.

“You know what, it’s been an in­ter­est­ing year. We’ve bat­tled. Through­out the year we’ve lost some tough games on the fi­nal play of the game,” Mullen said. “I told the guys in the locker room af­ter­ward, we’re here be­cause we didn’t give up. We found a way to go make that fi­nal play. Even though we missed a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties, we made the fi­nal play when it mat­tered.”

Bos­ton Col­lege holds off Mary­land

B detroit» Bos­ton Col­lege blew a fourthquar­ter lead in a loss to Ge­or­gia Tech in its sea­son opener in Ire­land. In the Ea­gles’ fi­nale, they showed they had learned how to hold on for a vic­tory.

Pa­trick Towles threw two touch­down passes and caught a pass for a score in the first half, help­ing Bos­ton Col­lege beat Mary­land 36-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl.

The Ea­gles led by 16 at half­time, 23 points early in the third quar­ter and then had to force Mary­land to turn the ball over on downs late in the game to seal their first bowl vic­tory since beat­ing Michi­gan State at the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl.

“We started to really de­velop a re­solve that you see in the play­ers’ eyes,” Bos­ton Col­lege coach Steve Ad­dazio said. “The most crit­i­cal thing in build­ing your pro­gram is hav­ing that. And, I really be­lieve we have fi­nally set that plat­form for­ward and that’s the most ex­cit­ing thing to me of all.”

Mary­land had the ball at its 35 with 1:48 left with a chance to drive for a go-ahead TD.

“That’s all you can ask for,” Mary­land coach D.J. Durkin said. “You’ll take that in any game.”

But the Ter­rap­ins didn’t gain a yard be­fore Harold Landry helped fin­ish them off with a pos­ses­sion-end­ing sack. Mary­land com­mit­ted four of­fen­sive turnovers.

Wolf­pack shreds Vandy 41-17

B shreve­port, la.» Jaylen Sa­muels caught three touch­down passes from Ryan Fin­ley, Ny­heim Hines re­turned a kick­off for a 100yard touch­down and North Carolina State beat Van­der­bilt in the In­de­pen­dence Bowl.

North Carolina State won three of its fi­nal four games to fin­ish with a win­ning record. The Wolf­pack built a 28-3 lead by mid­way through the third quar­ter — largely thanks to Sa­muels’ touch­down catches of 9, 55 and 17 yards — and then held off a brief Van­der­bilt rally.

Fin­ley com­pleted 19-of-30 passes for 235 yards. Sa­muels’ three touch­down catches were an In­de­pen­dence Bowl record.

Van­der­bilt had mo­men­tum go­ing into the game thanks to sur­pris­ing wins over Mis­sis­sippi and Ten­nessee to end the reg­u­lar sea­son. But the Com­modores’ of­fense — which scored a com­bined 83 points against the Rebels and Vol­un­teers — strug­gled for most of the night.

Van­der­bilt’s Kyle Shur­mur com­pleted just 19-of-46 passes for 158 yards and three in­ter­cep­tions. Even so, the Com­modores briefly made things in­ter­est­ing, clos­ing to 28-17 early in the fourth quar­ter.

But that’s when Hines re­sponded with his big kick­off re­turn to put the game out of reach. The Com­modores’ of­fense took a step back­ward after some late-sea­son im­prove­ment.

A tackle by Mi­ami (Ohio) de­fen­sive back Tony Reid sends Mis­sis­sippi State quar­ter­back Nick Fitzger­ald fly­ing dur­ing the sec­ond half of Mon­day’s St. Peters­burg Bowl in St. Peters­burg, Fla. Mis­sis­sippi State won 17-16. Chris O’Meara, The As­so­ci­ated

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