Thursday's bowl games: Gabbert leads Miami (Ohio) to Frisco Football Classic win

Associated Press

Frisco, Texas — Brett Gabbert completed 22 of 31 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, Kenny Tracy scored on an 8-yard run and Graham Nicholson kicked two field goals as Miami (Ohio) beat North Texas 27-14 in the first — and possibly last — Frisco Football Classic on Thursday.

Gabbert, the brother of NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert, threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Kenny Davis late in the second quarter and an 11-yarder to Nate Muersch early in the third quarter for Miami (7-6), which won a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season.

Miami (Ohio) quarterback Brett Gabbert looks for a receiver during the second half of the team's Frisco Football Classic NCAA college football game against North Texas in Frisco, Texas, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.

Gabbert was named the game’s offensive MVP. The defensive MVP was Miami freshman nickelback Jacquez Warren, who had an interception at the goal line.

After Miami stopped North Texas inside the RedHawks’ 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Gabbert escaped pressure -– as he did much of the game –- on third-and-8 deep in Miami territory to run for the first down that allowed the RedHawks to run out the rest of the clock.

“I was going to do everything I had to win this game,” said Gabbert, a sophomore. “Momentum kind of flipped, and we just kind of rolled from there.”

“Brett Gabbert’s No. 1 quality is his toughness,” RedHawks coach Chuck Martin said. “They got to him. They hit him. I love all the throws and all the decisions, the quick release. If we were all as tough as him, we’d never lose a game.”

Tracy’s touchdown run came late in the first quarter.

Nicholson made a 48-yard field goal on the RedHawks’ opening drive, which was one yard shy of his season high, and a 36-yarder in the second quarter.

Austin Aune and Isaiah Johnson scored on runs of 2 yards and 1 yard for the Mean Green (6-7). Aune was 15-of-32 passing for 228 yards and two interceptions.

“Every loss is tough,” North Texas coach Sean Littrell said. “If it’s not, you’re probably in the wrong profession.”

North Texas played without two senior starters, running back DeAndre Torrey and safety Makyle Sanders, for unstated reasons. Torrey had averaged 101.3 rushing yards per game, 41% of the 245.5-yard team average that ranked fourth in the FBS.

The Mean Green had 32 rushes for a season-low 89 yards, led by Aune’s 28 yards. North Texas had averaged 50 rushes per game this season.

The bowl game, played at Toyota Stadium, which had hosted the Frisco Bowl on Tuesday night, was hastily created a few weeks ago when 83 NCAA Division I teams were eligible to fill the slots of the 41 NCAA-approved postseason games.

“A lot of people didn’t want to go to the new bowl,” Martin said. “We all got memories of a lifetime because smart people put their heads together and got this thing going.”

Gasparilla Bowl

Isaiah Bowser ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns, Ryan O’Keefe had 85 yards on seven receptions, and Central Florida earned Sunshine State bragging rights by beating Florida 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday night.

UCF (9-4) took a 26-17 lead late in the third when Daniel Obarski made a 21-yard field goal and Mikey Keene threw a 54-yard scoring strike to O’Keefe in the span of about two minutes. Obarski then made it 29-17 on a 33-yarder with 2:41 to play.

Florida quarterback Emory Jones, playing in his final game with the Gators before entering the transfer portal, completed 14 of 36 passes for 171 yards. He also ran for 62 yards on 10 carries.

Florida was led by interim coach Greg Knox, who took over when Dan Mullen was fired before the regular-season finale against Florida State. Former Louisiana coach Billy Napier will take over for the 2022 season. Florida (6-7) finished with its first losing record since 2017.

UCF outgained Florida 436-376. O’Keefe also put up 110 rushing yards, including a 74-yard run in third quarter after which Bowser put UCF up 16-10 with a TD run 4 yards out.