Saturday's bowls: Rivers, Fresno State top Arizona State in Las Vegas
La Vegas — Ronnie Rivers rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns, Anthoula “Tank” Kelly had a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown and No. 19 Fresno State beat Arizona State 31-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.
Marcus McMaryion rushed for a touchdown and was 15-of-29 passing for 176 yards to help the Bulldogs (12-2) set a school record for wins in a season. He also threw two interceptions.
“It’s a group that persevered,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “This group can be remembered as the only team in NCAA history that went a double-digit losing season to back-to-back double-digit winning seasons.
Eno Benjamin rushed for 118 yards a one touchdown for the Sun Devils (7-6) in their third straight bowl loss. Manny Wilkins threw for 129 yards, with a 3-yard scoring pass to Kyle Williams and two interceptions.
Rivers put Fresno State back in front 24-20 with a 68-yard touchdown run up the middle in the third quarter and had a 5-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to seal Fresno State’s second win over a Pac-12 opponent this season.
Wilkins said he did not sustain an injury despite taking a hit to the knee on the final pass of his college career, which was intercepted by Juju Hughes.
Arizona State took a 20-17 lead on Brandon Ruiz’s 44-yard field goal in the third quarter after Aashari Crosswell intercepted McMaryion’s pass at the Fresno State 39.
McMaryion’s pass was intercepted by Chase Lucas on his next throw, an ill-fated heave downfield after reversing field under pressure. The senior had thrown three interceptions in 398 pass attempts during the regular season and Mountain West title game.
“You got to score points, especially when you get the ball where we possessed it,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said. “We made it a game we wanted to play in. We made it uncomfortable for them. But then they got a score. We had to catch up a little bit and that’s where they can really come after you.”
With the teams tied at 17 after the first half, it looked as if Fresno State was going to go back in front on its first possession of the third quarter on a throwback screen from McMaryion to Dejonte O’Neal but video review showed the senior wide receiver lost possession of the ball diving for the pylon and Shannon Forman recovered in the end zone.
Benjamin set the record with a 13-yard run in the second quarter, passing Woody Green’s mark of 1,565 yards rushing in 1972. Benjamin scored his 16th rushing touchdown of the season on the following play from scrimmage, giving Arizona State its first lead at 14-10.
New Mexico Bowl
Utah State 52, North Texas 13: At Albuquerque, Jordan Love threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns and Jalen Greene had six catches for 151 yards and a score to help Utah State rout North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl.
Interim coach Frank Maile directed the Aggies (11-2) after Matt Wells left to take the Texas Tech job.
Love completed 21 of 43 passes with one interception. D.J. William had two interceptions, helping Utah State ground high-flying North Texas (9-4).
Aaren Vaughns caught two passes for 109 yards and two scores for the Aggies, Gerold Bright ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, and Darwin Thompson added 93 yards on 21 carries.
North Texas quarterback Mason Fine was injured in the first quarter, and the Mean Green ended up using four quarterbacks. Jalen Guyton had four catches for 103 yards a score.
Tulane 41, Louisiana-Lafayette 24: At Orlando, Florida, Darius Bradwell rushed for a career-best 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead Tulane to its first postseason victory in 16 years.
Justin McMillan improved to 5-1 as the Green Wave’s starting quarterback, tossing a first-quarter TD pass to Terren Encalade and running for a late score while accounting for 217 yards total offense – 145 passing and 72 rushing.
Bradwell scored on runs of 15 and 4 yards while setting bowl records for rushing attempts (35) and yards for Tulane (7-6), which won a bowl game for the first time since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl.
The Green Wave also got a rushing TD from Amare Jones and outgained the Ragin’ Cajuns 337 yards to 84 on the ground.
Lousiana-Lafayette (7-7) rallied from a 24-7 deficit to pull within three points on Jarrod Jackson’s 15-yard TD reception with just over 10 minutes remaining.
McMillan put the game away, leading a 75-yard drive Bradwell finished with his second TD and later scoring himself on a 16-yard run that put Tulane up 41-24.
North Carolina A&T 24, Alcorn State 22: At Atlanta, Lamar Raynard passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns and Malik Wilson returned a kickoff for the game-sealing touchdown for North Carolina A&T.
The Mid-Eastern Athletic conference champion Aggies (10-2) won ther second straight HBCU national championship and third in four years. Alcorn State finished 9-4.
New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State 45, Middle Tennessee 13: Appalachian State receiver Malik Williams passed for two touchdowns on trick plays, and quarterback Zac Thomas caught a scoring pass and threw for three more.
Camerun Peoples had a 63-yard touchdown run for the Mountaineers (11-2), which gave Appalachian State alum and former player Mark Ivey a victory in what might have been his only chance to coach his alma mater.
Taking over on an interim basis after Scott Satterfield left for Louisville, Ivey looked determined to make his lone game as interim coach a memorable one. He even called for a surprise onside kick in the first half. And it might have worked if Clifton Duck had not snatched the high-bounding ball a yard before it had covered the mandatory 10 yards for a legal touch by the kicking team.
That was about the only thing Ivey tried that didn’t work, but Middle Tennessee (8-6) could not take advantage of it. Three plays later, Tae Hayes’ interception and 27-yard return to the Blue Raiders 41. That set up Williams’ second TD passing after he’d taken a pitch from running back Darrynton Evans on a reverse the threw to Thomas, who’d sprinted to the end zone after the initial handoff.
Williams first TD came after he caught a backward pass from Thomas near the right edge of the field and launched a 30-yard strike down the sidelined to Thomas Hennigan.
Thomas didn’t throw his first touchdown pass until the final minute of the first half, when he found Henry Pearson from a yard out. In the second half, he hit Corey Sutton or TDs of 17 and 11 yards. He finished 15 of 24 for 177 yards and was intercepted twice by safety Reed Blankenship.
Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill finished 25 of 37 for 330 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.