Wednesday’s football: Kaaya’s 4 TDs lead Miami to win
Orlando, Fla. — Miami fans asked Brad Kaaya to end the school’s 10-year bowl-victory drought, and he delivered.
Now they have another request.
“One more year! One more year!” they chanted at Kaaya on Wednesday night, after he threw four touchdown passes to help Miami top No. 14 West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
And it’s easy to see why they’re clamoring for the school’s most prolific quarterback to return.
Kaaya completed 24 of 34 passes for 282 yards for Miami (9-4) — and went 18 for 19 in one dazzling stretch, the lone incompletion in that span being a drop. The four TDs tied both a Miami bowl record and Kaaya’s collegiate best.
“I’ve got some soul-searching to do,” said Kaaya, who already was Miami’s career leader in passing yards and took over the No. 1 spots in attempts and completions on Wednesday.
“Regardless of if I’m here or not next season, I think this team is headed to greatness,” Kaaya added. “I think there’s a lot of good things going on and a lot of progress has been made, so I think this team will be good regardless of what happens over the next few days.”
Skyler Howard passed for 134 yards and ran for a touchdown for West Virginia (10-3), which fell to 3-17 against Miami. Kennedy McKoy also had a touchdown run for the Mountaineers, who committed 11 penalties and allowed four sacks.
West Virginia came in averaging more than 500 yards per game. Miami held the Mountaineers to 229.
“That’s the best defense we faced all year,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Miami’s offense wasn’t bad, either.
The Hurricanes had lost six straight bowl games, and punted on their first six possessions Wednesday. But Kaaya finally got rolling, and Miami soon had total control.
Kaaya connected with Ahmmon Richards, Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios for touchdowns in the final 6:30 of the first half to get Miami rolling, and found David Njoku for another touchdown on the first possession of the second half.
“They were ready to play,” Holgorsen said. “This meant a lot to them. … Outcoached us, outplayed us on all three sides.”
Northwestern 31, No. 22 Pittsburgh 24: At New York, Justin Jackson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns to power Northwestern to its third bowl victory. The victory at Yankee Stadium followed wins in the 1948 Rose Bowl and 2012 Gator Bowl in the program’s oft-futile history.
Jackson had TD runs of 8 and 16 yards in the second quarter, then went deep on a 40-yard burst in the third that left one defender face down on the turf and gave the Wildcats (7-6) a 21-17 lead.
Rallying without injured quarterback Nathan Peterman and running back James Conner, Pitt yanked the lead away in the fourth on a short TD pass before it collapsed the rest of the quarter.
The Wildcats turned a fourth-and-1 into a 21-yard play-action TD pass from Clayton Thorson to Garrett Dickerson that made it 28-24 and a hit late field goal for a seven-point lead.
The Panthers (8-5) had time to spoil Northwestern’s upset bid with a late drive for the tying score. Scott Orndoff failed to hang on to backup quarterback Ben DiNucci’s strike in the end zone on third down. DiNucci had his fourth-down pass picked off by Jared McGee, who helped bust up the previous pass play.
Foster Farms Bowl
Utah 26, Indiana 24: At Santa Clara, California, Joe Williams ran for 222 yards and a touchdown and Andy Phillips kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:24 to play to lead Utah to its 14th victory in its past 15 bowl games.
Tyler Huntley ran for another score and the Utes (9-4) forced three turnovers to spoil Tom Allen’s coaching debut at Indiana and improve Utah coach Kyle Whittingham’s bowl record to 10-1. Allen took over the Hoosiers (6-7) after Kevin Wilson’s sudden resignation this month.
The Hoosiers rallied from 10 points down to take a 24-23 lead early in the fourth quarter on Devine Redding’s 3-yard run following a fumble by Utah’s Zach Moss. Williams then lost a fumble on the next drive for the Utes, but Griffin Oakes missed a 40-yard field goal attempt with 5:34 left to prevent the Hoosiers from adding to the lead. That proved costly when Williams ran for 64 yards on the ensuing drive to help set up Phillips’ fourth field goal of the game to make it 26-24.
Kansas State 33, Texas A&M 28: At Houston, Jesse Ertz threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores. Ertz had a 79-yard touchdown pass and scoring runs of 1 and 5 yards to help give Kansas State its fourth straight win and first bowl victory since the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
The Wildcats (9-4) led by five when Ertz bulled into the end zone on a 1-yard run that made it 33-21 with nine minutes left. Ertz set up the score with a 20-yard run two plays earlier.
The Aggies (8-5) cut it to 33-28 on Josh Reynolds’ 15-yard TD reception about a minute later.
Texas A&M attempted to convert a fourth-and-8 with about two minutes left, but Trevor Knight’s pass was short, to give Kansas State the ball back and allow the Wildcats to run out the clock.
Reynolds had a Texas A&M bowl-record 12 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Knight threw for 310 yards with three touchdowns and one interception as A&M dropped its second straight bowl game.