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