Utah State tops NIU; Conner runs Pittsburgh by BGSU
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Brian Suite intercepted Jordan Lynch’s pass and recovered a fumble by the Heisman Trophy finalist to help Utah State beat No. 24 Northern Illinois 21-14 on Thursday night in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Joey DeMartino, who went to high school and junior college in San Diego, carried 23 times for 143 yards and a touchdown for Utah State (9-5).
Lynch, who was third in the Heisman Trophy voting and made The Associated Press All-America team as an all-purpose player, had a rough end to his college career. Besides the two turnovers, he was held to just 39 yards rushing, keeping him from becoming the first major college player to rush for 2,000 yards and pass for 2,000 yards in the same season.
Lynch ran for a touchdown and passed for another for NIU (12-2), which lost its second straight game.
LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL
Pittsburgh 30, Bowling Green 27
DETROIT (AP) — James Conner ran for 229 yards — breaking a Pittsburgh bowl record set by Tony Dorsett — and Chris Blewitt kicked a 39-yard field goal with 1:17 left, lifting the Panthers past Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Conner also played a handful of snaps on the defensive line, and fellow freshman Tyler Boyd gave Pitt (7-6) a boost with eight catches for 173 yards — also a school bowl record. Boyd scored on a punt return in the first half.
Bowling Green (10-4) tied it at 17 when BooBoo Gates took the second-half kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
Dorsett ran for 202 yards in Pitt’s win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1977. Gordon Jones set the school’s receiving record for a bowl the next season with 163 yards in a Gator Bowl win over Clemson.
The 6-foot-2 Conner rushed for 165 yards in the second half, helping Pitt overcome the loss of quarterback Tom Savage, who didn’t play after halftime because of a rib injury.
Conner helped Pitt overcome the loss of quarterback Tom Savage, who didn’t play after halftime because of a rib injury. Conner and the Panthers drove 51 yards in seven plays late in the fourth quarter to set up a 39-yard kick by Blewitt, who had missed from the same distance earlier.
Aaron Donald, Pitt’s All-American on the defensive line, helped thwart any last-ditch comeback with a sack deep in Bowling Green territory.
Chad Voytik relieved Savage and put Pitt ahead 27-20 with a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons tied it on Matt Johnson’s 15-yard strike to Ryan Burbrink with 4:42 to play.