Friday’s bowls roundup: Middle Tennessee tops Toledo in Bahamas bowl

Associated Press

Nassau, Bahamas — Freshman Nick Vattiato threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, including a 59-yard scoring pass to Jarrin Pierce with 6:24 left, and Middle Tennessee beat Toledo 31-24 on Friday in the Bahamas Bowl.

Two plays after Toledo's 32-yard punt, Vattiato connected with a wide-open Pierce along the right side for a 28-17 lead. The 59-yard play was the longest completion in Middle Tennessee's bowl history.

Middle Tennessee quarterback NIck Vattiato scores on a touchdown run against Toledo during the Bahamas Bowl.

On Toledo's next possession, quarterback Dequan Finn was pressured by Jordan Ferguson and defensive lineman Zaylin Wood intercepted a tipped pass, leading to a 35-yard field goal for a 31-17 lead.

Toledo got within seven points with 1:08 remaining, but Thomas Cluckey recovered an onside kick to secure it.

"Winning a bowl game, you're a champion, you're Bahamas Bowl champion and these seniors, these guys, they can take that with them the rest of their lives ," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said after his 101st victory with the program.

Pierce caught four passes for 114 yards and Ferguson had a sack to reach nine on the season for Middle Tennessee (7-6), which was a double-digit underdog. Mike DiLiello rushed for 44 yards, including a 17-yard score to put the Blue Raiders ahead for good at 21-17.

University of Toledo wide receiver Matt Landers makes a catch en route to  touchdown against Middle Tennessee during the Bahamas Bowl.

Wood's interception was Middle Tennessee's 17th of the season, extending their national lead in turnovers gained to 32.

Finn was 18-of-39 passing for 212 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for Toledo (7-6). Finn broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run on fourth and 1 to tie it at 7.

Matt Landers, a Georgia transfer, set a Bahamas Bowl record with a 90-yard touchdown catch to put Toledo ahead 14-7. On first down at the 10, Finn threw it deep over the middle that Landers tipped to himself with an outstretched left arm and coasted into the end zone.

Cure Bowl

Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41: Grayson McCall threw four touchdown passes and Coastal Carolina held off Northern Illinois 47-41 in the Cure Bowl on Friday night, with the game ending with the Huskies at the Chanticleers 4.

McCall was 22 for 30 for 315 yards, and Braydon Bennett ran 108 yards and two touchdowns on six carries to help Coastal Carolina (11-1) win 11 games for the second consecutive year. Bennett also caught four passes for 47 yards and a TD.

Coastal Carolina running back Braydon Bennett (1) runs the ball against Northern Illinois during the Cure Bowl NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Jay Ducker ran for 146 yards on 24 carries, and Antario Brown added 105 yards and 12 attempts for Northern Illinois (9-5). Rocky Lombardi completed 20 of 33 passes for 181 yards and two scores.

Northern Illinois (516) and Coastal Carolina (514) combined for 1,030 yards. Northern Illinois picked up 335 yards on the ground.

After Northern Illinois wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 run at the Huskies 34, McCall threw a shovel pass from the option to Bennett for a TD on the next play. He then connected with Isaiah Likely on a two-point conversion to make it 47-41 with 6:40 left.

Northern Illinois got the ball back at its own 13 with 2 1/2 minutes to play. Lombardi hit Miles Joiner for a 4-yard gain on fourth down to the Coastal Carolina 4 with 2 seconds remaining, but the Huskies couldn’t off another play.

Likely’s second touchdown reception got Coastal Carolina within two at 41-39 with nine minutes left, but McCall’s threw an incomplete pass on the two-point try.