Wednesday's bowl roundup: Terrapins thrash Hokies in Pinstripe; Clemson, Oklahoma triumph

AP Sports

New York — Taulia Tagovailoa raised the MVP trophy over his head as confetti fluttered around him and could only think, not of his near-flawless dominance in the Bronx, but of the words of his Maryland coach.

The best is ahead.

Tagovailoa threw touchdown passes of 70 and 32 yards to Darryl Jones, Tarheeb Still returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown, and the sudden scores sparked Maryland to a 54-10 rout of Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday.

Maryland defensive back Tarheeb Still reacts during the Terrapins' rout of Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday.

The game belonged to Tagovailoa, an Alabama transfer and younger brother of Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa. He was 20 of 24 for 265 yards, and the two TD passes brought his season total to 26, which tied Maryland’s single-season record.

“I hope it quiets some of the critics and he gets some of the respect he deserves as a quarterback,” coach Mike Locksley said. “We wouldn’t be in this situation we’re in with a winning season without Taulia.”

Locksley preached patience in the form of his mantra, the best is ahead. Tagovailoa, who had already announced he would return to the Terps next season, showed enough flashes of greatness in New York to hint the future may be bright.

The game’s MVP, Tagovailoa helped the Terrapins (7-6) get the better of the Hokies at Yankee Stadium — and even on TV.

Brent Pry was hired last month as Virginia Tech’s coach — J.C. Price served as interim coach — and went on ESPN during the game to hype the 2022 season. Pry boasted, “ We are gonna play a great brand of defense. ” Seconds later, Tagovailoa connected with Jones for the deep play and a 14-3 lead. Pry was good-naturedly roasted on social media, and Maryland even tweeted the clip with a grimacing face emoji.

Price compared trying to stop the Terps to “plowing snow uphill.”

“One game is not going to define who those guys are in the locker room,” he said.

Pry must have grimaced when Tagovailoa hit Jones again in the third quarter for a 34-10 lead that helped send the Terps to their first bowl win since 2010.

Jones, a senior wide receiver, had never caught a touchdown pass over his first 40 games. He had two and finished with 111 yards receiving against the Hokies (6-7).

“I’ll be telling this story for I don’t know how many years,” Jones said.

Antwain Littleton II added a 4-yard rushing TD for Maryland and Joseph Petrino answered the Hokies’ lone touchdown with a 44-yard field goal with 59 seconds left in the first half for a 24-10 lead. Roman Hemby scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter.

The Hokies’ signature “ Enter Sandman ” song rang out before the game — the Metallica classic was usually played near the end of games at Yankee Stadium — and had fans and players jumping on another chilly Pinstripe Bowl game day.

Still silenced them moments later with the longest punt return in Maryland history, a sizzling run that finished down Virginia Tech’s sideline.

“I would have been a fool not to return it,” Still said.

The Terrapins never let up, playing nothing like a team that lost six of seven in one stretch. Virginia Tech QB Connor Blumrick fumbled in the fourth quarter and Greg Rose scooped the loose ball and ran 11 yards for a touchdown and a 47-10 lead.

Coby McDonald capped the scoring with a 20-yard run that made it 54-10 and wrapped Locksley’s first bowl win over seven seasons and two programs.

More Wednesday games

Clemson 20, Iowa State 13, Cheez-It Bowl: D.J. Uiagalelei completed 21 of 32 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, Mario Goodrich scored on an 18-yard interception return and No. 19 Clemson beat Iowa State in Orlando, Florida for coach Dabo Swinney’s 150th victory.

Will Shipley had a 12-yard touchdown run and finished with 61 yards rushing and 53 yards receiving for Clemson (10-3). Dacari Collins caught six passes for 53 yards, and B.T. Potter made two field goals.

Clemson won its sixth straight game to reach 10 victories for an 11th consecutive season. Florida State (14 from 1987-00) and Alabama (14 from 2008-21) are the only programs with longer streaks.

The Tigers, who lost All-ACC linebacker James Skalski to a leg injury in the second quarter, held the Cyclones (7-6) to three field goals over the first three quarters. Iowa State, which was severely limited by playing star tailback Breece Hall, mustered just 270 yards and 14 first downs against a Clemson defense that came into the game second in the nation in scoring defense.

Goodrich sealed Clemson’s victory with 33 seconds to play when he stripped the ball away from Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy on a fourth-and-2 play.

Iowa State dropped four of its final six games of the season and lost in a bowl game for a fourth consecutive year.

Purdy, the winningest quarterback in school history, had a pass picked off by Goodrich in the third quarter when Clemson’s Justin Mascoll swatted the ball at the line and Purdy accidentally batted it ahead into the waiting arms of the Tigers’ cornerback. Goodrich’s 18-yard scoring run gave Clemson two scores in a 53-second stretch of the third quarter to push the score to 20-3.

Iowa State cut it 20-13 with 9:42 to play on Andrew Mevis’ third field goal and Purdy’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Kolar.

Purdy completed 22 of 39 passes for 204 yards, but his two turnovers proved costly.

 Oklahoma 47, Oregon 32, Alamo Bowl: Kennedy Brooks ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 14 Sooners rode a dominant first half to a victory over the No. 15 Ducks in San Antonio.

Caleb Williams threw three touchdown passes for the Sooners, who gave interim coach Bob Stoops career win No. 191 and a special family moment when he could hug son Drake, an Oklahoma wide receiver, after a first-half touchdown.

Oklahoma (11-2) bolted to a 30-3 lead as Brooks and Williams sliced up the Oregon defense. Brooks had 127 yards on just 10 carries in the first half with scoring runs of 16 and 29 yards, and another 40-yard run that set up Williams’ first touchdown pass to Drake Stoops.

Williams’ 55-yard TD pass to Marvin Mims Jr. hit the receiver perfectly in stride behind two Ducks defenders that were two steps late. Brooks then punched in the final score of the half.

At that point, the Sooners were so dominant they were looking like some of Stoops’ old teams when he won a national championship and 10 Big 12 titles as Oklahoma’s coach from 1999-2016.

Travis Dye rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown for Oregon (10-4). The Ducks scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, two coming on long throws by quarterback Anthony Brown, to get within 44-25 by the start of the fourth, but couldn’t get the stops on defense needed to close the gap.

Brown finished with 306 yards passing for the Ducks.

Stoops came out of retirement for the game after coach Lincoln Riley’s sudden departure for Southern California at the end of the season. He was able to hug his son on the sideline after the second-quarter touchdown catch. Stoops’ former assistant, Brent Venables, who has spent nine seasons as a Clemson assistant, will take over the Oklahoma program in 2022.

Oregon was led by assistant coach Bryan McClendon, who was elevated to interim head coach for the bowl game after Mario Cristobal left the Ducks for Miami. Oregon has hired Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, who will take over at Oregon after the College Football Playoff.