Saturday's college football: Utah star freshman running back Ty Jordan dies

Tim Reynolds
Associated Press

Ty Jordan, a star freshman running back for the University of Utah who grew up in the Dallas area, has died, school officials announced Saturday.

Authorities in Texas and Utah have not released details about the circumstances of Jordan’s death. A day earlier, the 19-year-old was named Pac-12’s newcomer of the year.

Ty Jordan

“Words cannot express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling right now upon learning of the tragic death of our teammate and brother, Ty Jordan,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement.

Jordan, a speedy 5-foot-7, 200-pound player, emerged from a crowded Utah backfield to become the focal point of the team’s offense. He finished the season with 597 yards rushing, 11 catches for 126 yards and six touchdowns.

Jordan came up as a tailback playing in Mesquite, a Dallas suburb, and was a highly touted recruit. He made a seamless transition to the college game, including three straight 100-yard rushing performances to close out the season.

Utah was one of nearly two dozen major college football teams to decline an opportunity to play a postseason bowl game, instead allowing players who had been in strict COVID-19 protocols for months begin their offseasons.

King returning

D’Eriq King transferred to Miami with the hope of competing for championships.

He’s staying with the same hope for 2021.

D'Eriq King

The Hurricanes’ quarterback — who came to Miami with the intention of spending just one year at the school — announced he is returning for another senior season, taking advantage of the NCAA rule that essentially gave all college athletes another year of eligibility in response to the hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let’s run it back,” King said.

His decision likely means that Miami will enter next season as a top contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the league that sent Clemson and Notre Dame into this season’s College Football Playoff.

King helped Miami engineer a major turnaround this season. The Hurricanes never reached the AP Top 25 last season and sputtered their way to a 6-7 finish; they appeared in all 15 of the AP regular-season rankings this year, reaching as high as No. 7 nationally in early October.

King has completed 201 of 316 passes this season for 2,573 yards, 22 touchdowns and only thrown five interceptions. King is also Miami’s second-leading rusher so far this season, with 520 yards and four more touchdowns on the ground.

There have been only two instances in the last three seasons where a quarterback threw for 400 yards and ran for 100 yards in the same game — and King is responsible for both. He had a 419-yard passing, 132-yard rushing game for Houston in 2018 and a 430-yard passing, 105-yard rushing game for Miami this season against North Carolina State.

At his current pace, King’s 63.6% completion percentage would rank as Miami’s all-time best, exceeding the record of 62.3% that Bernie Kosar has held since 1984. King’s percentage rate this season, for now, is the second-best single-year mark in Miami history; Jacory Harris completed 65% of his throws in 2011.

No. 18 Miami (8-2) closes this season Tuesday in the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State (7-3). A win would ensure that the Hurricanes finish the season ranked for just the third time in the last eight years — and King coming back gives Miami a real shot of entering next year as a Top 10 team for what would be just the second time since 2005.

Miami coach Manny Diaz said this month he thought King would benefit from a return.

Next season will be King’s sixth in college — a very unusual quirk. He appeared in nine games for Houston in 2016, 10 more there in 2017, 11 for the Cougars in 2018 and four in 2019 before announcing that he was forgoing the rest of that season’s eligibility and would seek a transfer. Playing in only four games last season made it possible for him to remain eligible for a fifth year, and the NCAA rule regarding the pandemic gave him the option of extending his career once again.

Saturday's bowls

First Responders Bowl

►No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette 31, UTSA 24: At Dallas, Trey Ragas scored on a 1-yard plunge with 7:16 left. The Ragin’ Cajuns (10-1) drove 72 yards in 12 plays for the winning score after UTSA (7-5) overcame a 24-7 second-half deficit to tie it.

UTSA associate head coach/offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. directed the Roadrunners after first-year coach Jeff Traylor twice tested positive for COVID-19 this week and didn’t accompany the team.

Levi Lewis had first-half touchdown passes of 15 and 10 yards for Louisiana-Lafayette. Elijah Mitchell added a 3-yard touchdown run, and Kenneth Almendares kicked a 31-yard field goal, The Ragin’ Cajuns won their seventh straight game following a loss to Coastal Carolina in mid-October.

Frank Harris had touchdown passes of 29 yards and 10 yards and an 11-yard scoring run for the Roadrunners. Hunter Duplessis kicked a 20-yard field goal that tied with 13:32 left.

Lending Tree Bowl

►Georgia State 39, Western Kentucky 21: At Mobile, Alabama, Georgia State scored touchdowns on four consecutive first-half possessions. Georgia State (6-4) beat Sun Belt Conference rival South Alabama 31-14 on Nov. 21, across town at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Redshirt freshman Cornelius “Quad” Brown threw for 226 yards and three second-quarter touchdowns. Destin Coates added 117 yards and a touchdown rushing, part of a 227-yard day on the ground for Georgia State.

Brown threw an interception on the Panthers’ second possession, leading to a talking-to from coach Shawn Elliott.

“I told him, ‘You can’t win the game on one play,’” Elliott said. “And he settled down after that. On the third drive we started clicking. Our receivers and our backs and our offensive line – the supporting cast around Quad – had to play well, and they did. They push hard every single day but Quad had an exceptional night. I’m really, really proud of him.”

Western Kentucky (5-7) scored first, driving 80 yards in 14 plays for quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome’s 2-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first. Georgia State answered with a largely run-based drive, capped by Coates’ 11-yard run that made it 7-7 with eight seconds remaining in the first.

The Panthers scored again on their next possession to take a 14-7 lead, with Brown hitting Sam Pinckney with a 26-yard strike at the goal line with 9:50 left in the half. After Pigrome threw his first interception of the year three plays later, Georgia State again got into the end zone on Brown’s 5-yard pass to Jamari Thrash for a 21-7 lead at the 2:09 mark of the second.

Georgia State picked off another of Pigrome’s passes moments later, and again it led to points. The Panthers drove 80 yards to the end zone, with Brown hitting Cornelius McCoy on an 8-yard touchdown pass for a 27-7 lead with 8 seconds left in the half.

“After that first interception, I knew we’d get to rolling,” Brown said. “ … The guys picked me up. They made sure I didn’t hang my head. They never lost in confidence in me.”

Western Kentucky scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half, with Gaej Walker running in from the 2. That made it 27-14.

Georgia State added Noel Ruiz’s 45-yard field goal for a 30-14 lead midway through the third. Western Kentucky then had a chance to make it a one-score game, but the Panthers stopped the Hilltoppers on fourth-and-1 from the 2.

Ruiz booted a 29-yard field goal with 11:19 left to make it a three-score game again at 33-14. Backup quarterback Mikele Colasurdo capped the Panthers’ scoring with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cadarrius Thompson with 5:13 remaining.

Western Kentucky tacked on a touchdown with 2:18 left, when C.J. Jones ran in from two yards out. The Hilltoppers were outgained 478 yards to 284 in the game.

“Hats off to Georgia State, they just flat out out-played us tonight,” Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton said. “I thought there were a couple of things early in the game we did a good job of, but penalties cost us at critical times. They did all the right things. They beat us hands-down.”

Brown completed 15 of 29 passes with an interception and ran for 40 yards on 10 attempts before giving way to Colasurdo midway through the fourth quarter

Pigrome, like Brown an Alabama native playing back in his home state, was 17 of 33 for 180 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked three times.

Cure Bowl

No. 23 Liberty 37, No. 9 Coastal Carolina 34, OT: At Orlando, Florida, Elijah James blocked Massimo Biscardi’s 42-yard field goal attempt in overtime. Liberty (10-1) took the lead on Alex Barbir’s 44-yard field goal on the first extra possession.

Coastal Carolina (11-1) got a huge break in regulation when Liberty’s Joshua Mack fumbled inside the 1 with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Safety Alex Spillum recovered the fumble to end the long drive.

Malik Willis ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns for Liberty. The Flames’ only loss came to North Carolina State on a blocked field goal.

Coastal Carolina overcame an early 14-0 deficit, and drove 72 yards to tie it in the fourth quarter. Grayson McCall ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 34-34 after throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Greg Latushko with 3:01 remaining

Coastal Carolina had won 12 straight.

It was the first time any ranked team had played in the six-year-old bowl, which was moved to prime time after being scheduled in the early afternoon. The teams were scheduled to meet Dec. 5, but that game was canceled because of COVID-19.

Willis led touchdown drives of 64 and 66 yards on the Flames’ first two possessions, running 7 yards for the first touchdown and 6 yards to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter.

Braden Matts’ interception turned the game in Coastal Carolina’s direction early in the second quarter. Biscardi’s 21-yard field goal got the Chanticleers on the board, and McCall connected with tight end Isaiah Likely on a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-10 with 2:02 left in the half.

Biscardi added a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the half after Barbir kicked a 37-yarder for Liberty.

Javon Scruggs’ 59-yard interception return set up the Flames at the Costal Carolina 10 early in the second half, and Willis’ third TD run made it 24-13. Coastal Carolina answered quickly on McCall’s 43-yard scoring pass to Latushko.