Tuesday's football: Baylor ends year on positive note
Phoenix — KD Cannon had 14 catches for a Cactus Bowl-record 226 yards and two touchdowns, helping Baylor end a difficult season with a 31-12 victory over Boise State on Tuesday night.
Baylor (7-6) went into a downward spiral the last half of the season after opening with six straight wins. Quarterback Seth Russell suffered a season-ending ankle injury, the sexual assault scandal that cost coach Art Briles his job continued to linger and the losses piled up, six straight to end the regular season.
The Bears ended on a positive note by revving up their quick-hitting offense again behind freshman quarterback Zach Smith, who threw for 375 yards and three scores.
Boise State (10-3) tried to keep up with the Bears, but struggled in the red zone: two field goals, an interception in the end zone and a failed fourth down try.
Boise State started with single coverage on Cannon and the Bears exploited it throughout the first half.
The Baylor junior scored on a 30-yard pass from Smith in the first quarter, out-leaping Boise State’s Jonathan Moxey in the end zone, then beat him on a 68-yard score in the second to put Baylor up 14-3. Cannon had eight catches for 182 yards and two TDs by halftime.
Smith had some ups and downs in three games after Russell broke his ankle, but had a month to prepare for the Cactus Bowl. The freshman from Texas was sharp with the extra work, completing 28 of 39 passes. He also threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ishmael Zamora in the fourth quarter to put Baylor up 31-6.
Boise State’s Brett Rypien moved the Broncos up and down the field, but had his share of mistakes.
He threw an interception at the Baylor 5-yard line on Boise State’s second drive and had an overthrow on what would likely have been a touchdown later in the first quarter, forcing the Broncos to settle for a field goal.
Rypien also threw an interception in the end zone in the second quarter. He finished with 305 yards and a touchdown on 32-of-51 passing with two interceptions and a lost fumble.
Army 38, North Texas 31
Dallas — For Army coach Jeff Monken, there was never really a second thought about what to do on fourth down from the 3 on the opening possession of overtime.
Not with the way the triple-option Black Knights dominate running the ball and struggle kicking it.
Jordan Asberry took a toss and scored Army’s sixth rushing touchdown in a 38-31 win over North Texas on Tuesday in a rematch at the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“One of our goals is not flinch and believe no matter what,” said quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran for 129 yards and a score. “A lot of people say it’s a questionable call. … We were determined to get it in.”
The Black Knights (8-5) finished with 480 yards rushing, including 119 yards and two TDs by Darnell Woolfolk. Asberry’s score was the 46th rushing touchdown this season, breaking the school record held by the 1945 national championship team that had two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield.
North Texas (5-8) had its chance in overtime. But after Alec Morris scrambled for 4 yards and Jeffery Wilson lost 3, consecutive incomplete passes followed. The former Alabama graduate transfer threw for 304 yards and three TDs, but his desperation fourth-down throw on the run ended the game.
“We may not have accomplished our mission of winning our bowl game, but these men … set a solid foundation of brotherhood,” first-year coach Seth Littrell said.
North Texas, which lost five of its last six games after winning 35-18 at Army on Oct. 22, was in the bowl based on its Academic Progress Rate.
Army’s 1945 team had 45 rushing touchdowns while going 9-0. Doc Blanchard scored 16 of them and won the Heisman that season. Glenn Davis had 15 a year before winning his Heisman Trophy.
The Black Knights have a three-game winning streak, including their first win over Navy since 2001.
“We’re a work in a progress. I hope we always will be and be improving,” Monken said. “Proud of our guys and how we finished this season.”
Wake Forest 34, Temple 26
Annapolis, Md. — In typical Temple fashion, the Owls never gave up, but they dug themselves into a crater-sized hole that proved to be insurmountable.
After trailing by as many as 24 points in the first half, Temple suffered a 34-26 loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday in the Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Temple finished 10-4 for the second straight year, one win away from setting a school record for victories in a season.
Wake Forest (7-6) snapped a three-game losing streak.
Trailing by 31-10 at halftime, Temple scored on its first second-half possession, with Adonis Jennings catching the ball near midfield and zigzagging his way to the end zone for a 58-yard scoring pass from Phillip Walker in the first minute of the third quarter.
On the next series, Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford, after being tackled by Derrek Thomas, suffered a neck strain that knocked him out of the game. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Kyle Kearns.
The Demon Deacons continued to move the ball, but Temple safety Delvon Randall made a diving interception in the end zone with 9:04 left in the third quarter.
The Owls turned that turnover into Aaron Boumerhi's 24-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 31-20 with 3:51 left in the third quarter. Boumerhi added a 32-yarder and then a 38-yarder that got the Owls to within 31-26 with 3:56 left.
But Wake Forest's John Armstrong returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the Temple 15-yard line. That resulted in Mike Weaver's 30-yard field goal that extended the lead to 34-26 with 1:59 left.
Isaiah Wright returned the kickoff 47 yards to the Owls 47, but Temple failed to pick up a first down. There was a miscommunication on a fourth-and-3 play from the Wake Forest 46 and Walker's pass sailed far away from Jennings, the intended receiver.
Temple scored on its first possession of each half. It was the time in between that did the Owls in. They surrendered 31 unanswered first-half points after scoring the game's first touchdown.
Wake Forest entered the game 121st among Football Bowl Subdivision schools in scoring offense, averaging 19.3 points. In the first half, Wake Forest accumulated 262 yards, compared with 135 for the Owls.
On Temple's first offensive play of the game after a Sean Chandler interception, Walker hit Jennings on a go pattern for a 48-yard touchdown. It was the 21st touchdown pass of the season for Walker.
Minnesota 17, Washington State 12
San Diego — After a few days of turmoil and perhaps more to come, the Minnesota Golden Gophers played lights-out in shutting down Luke Falk and the Washington State Cougars to win the Holiday Bowl.
Shannon Brooks caught a tipped pass from Mitch Leidner for a 13-yard, go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter and Minnesota, mired in controversy after 10 players were suspended after a sexual assault investigation, won 17-12 on Tuesday night.
The Golden Gophers (9-4) were looking to regroup after backing down from a threat to skip this game if their teammates suspended after the investigation weren’t reinstated. Their boycott lasted less than 36 hours, with university leadership never blinking. The players backed down amid pressure from many who read details of the allegations.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of anybody not wanting to be here. It’s just a matter of wishing our brothers could be here with us as well,” Leidner said. “I love this team, these coaches. You couldn’t ask for a better way to go out. I’m just really proud of these guys.”
Brooks’ TD catch was one of the few exciting plays in an otherwise pedestrian edition of what traditionally has been one of the country’s most exciting bowl games.
WSU cornerback Marcellus Pippins reached up with his right hand and deflected Leidner’s pass in the end zone but it went right to Brooks for the TD and a 10-6 lead. That capped an 84-yard, 10-play drive on Minnesota’s first possession of the second half.
The Gophers had to face Falk and WSU’s normally high-powered Air Raid offense without starting defensive backs KiAnte Hardin and Antoine Winfield Jr., and key backup Antonio Shenault, who were among the suspended players.
Their replacements stepped up.
“You’ve got to go off practice, and those kids practiced awfully well,” coach Tracy Claeys said. “They did a tremendous job. All of them played their tails off. When you get in those situations and you’re missing people, it all goes back to that the next person’s got to step up and you ask them to do things, they’re going to do it. Nobody’s going to be successful if you ask them to do things you’re not very good at.”
WSU (8-5) ended on a three-game losing streak and was held to its lowest point total of the season. The Cougars had scored more than 50 points four times this season, a school record.