Fourth Quarter Drama Highlights First Week of College Bowl Games
The first week of bowl games is in the books and, while we all know these games are just appetizers for the big games to come, the BCS games will be hard-pressed to match some of the excitement we’ve already seen. Three of the four games this week were decided in the fourth quarter and featured a lot of stellar individual efforts.
Here are all the highlights from the first games of the 2012 bowl season.
GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL: Arizona 49, Nevada 48
This was the first game of the year, but all the others to follow may have trouble matching this one in terms of last-minute excitement. Arizona scored two touchdowns in the game’s final 46 seconds to score a come-from-behind win and give the Wildcats their first eight-win season in three years. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns (all in the fourth quarter). With Nevada leading 48-35, Scott hit Austin Hill for a two-yard score with 46 seconds left to pull Arizona within six. The Wildcats then recovered an onside kick and Scott led Arizona on a three-play, 51-yard drive for the winning score in just 23 seconds. Both offenses were nearly unstoppable in this game, combining for 1.237 total yards and 70 first downs, a new NCAA record for a bowl game. Arizona’s KaDeem Carey, who came into the game as the nation’s leading rusher, had another strong performance with 172 yards and three touchdowns. Nevada had two rushers go for 140+ in the game and actually outgained the Wildcats 659-578.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: #22 Utah State 41, Toledo 15
Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the WAC conference record for total yards in a season and leading the Aggies to their first bowl win in 19 years. This game was actually much closer than the score would indicate—Toledo trailed just 13-9 midway through the fourth quarter before Williams exploded to score on runs of 63, 5 and 25 yards in just over three minutes on three consecutive possessions. 198 of Williams’ 235 yards came in the fourth quarter. Until that fourth quarter explosion, it was the Aggies defense that led the way, holding Toledo to just 320 total yards and keeping them out of the end zone (the Rockets’ only touchdown came on a kickoff return late in the game). Toledo’s David Fluellen, the nation’s 12th leading rusher, returned from an ankle injury that kept him out the last game, but was largely ineffective, finishing with just 38 yards on seven carries before leaving with another ankle injury.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL: Brigham Young 23, San Diego State 6
San Diego State scored the game’s first six points and still led 6-3 going into the fourth quarter before BYU got two defensive touchdowns to key 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Neither offense was able to do much (just 296 total yards for the Cougars, 263 for San Diego State). Aztecs quarterback Adam Dingwell’s game was the stuff of nightmares, throwing three interceptions (including a pick six) and fumbling twice, including once in the end zone for another BYU touchdown. Four of his turnovers came in the fourth quarter. San Diego State running back Adam Muema had a solid night against the Cougars’ stout defense, rushing for 103 yards. But the Aztecs had no other luck on offense and were never able to find the end zone against a BYU squad that ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense.
BEEF O’BRADY’S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG: Central Florida 38, Ball State 17
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 271 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions to help the Bulls move past their disappointing collapse in the Conference USA title game and give South Florida its second-ever bowl win. Running back Latavius Murray racked up 106 total yards and three touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving) in the win. Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning returned to action after missing the season-ending win over Miami (OH). He finished with 218 yards and two touchdowns, but he got no help as the Redhawks were held to just 68 yards rushing. But the real key to this game was the inability of the Ball State defense to get off the field—seven of the Bulls’ nine possessions went for at least seven plays and covered 50 or more yards. The win gives Central Florida its fourth 10-win season in school history. Ball State is now 0-6 all-time in bowl games.