Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rice: 2014 Hawaii Bowl Champions


HONOLULU (AP) Driphus Jackson had his best game of the year by passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns, and Rice completed a remarkable turnaround with a 30-6 victory over Fresno State on Wednesday night in the Hawaii Bowl.
The Owls (8-5) started the season at 0-3 and ended it with their second bowl win in the last three years.
Jackson was accurate with his arm, especially on two deep sideline routes, and dangerous with his feet. He rushed for 41 yards and some key scrambles out of trouble. The Owls got plenty of help from their defense.
Fresno State (6-8), the only team with a losing record to play a bowl game this year, broke its Hawaii Bowl record for fewest points. Fresno State scored 10 points two years ago in a lopsided loss to SMU. It was the fewest points Fresno State scored all year.
The Bulldogs lost to Rice for the first time - they had a 6-0 edge from their old WAC days - and dropped their sixth consecutive bowl game.
This one wasn't close.
Rice piled up 463 yards and held Fresno State to 93 yards passing, well below the Bulldogs' season average of 238 yards. Brian Burrell was 10 of 20 for 44 yards and didn't complete a pass longer than 8 yards.
The Owls had 96 yards on their opening possession and had to settle for a field goal after two penalties on one play - holding on Caleb Williams, and then Mario Hull was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for jamming an open palm in the face of cornerback Charles Washington during some trash talk. That made it first-and-goal from the 34, and the Owls got all the way down to the 4 before they had to settle for a field goal.
Even so, it set the tone for the Rice offense - and for the game.
Jackson was perfect on a fly route down the left side to Dennis Parks for 53 yards that led to his 14-yard scoring pass to Jordan Taylor. And after Burrell threw a deep interception, Jackson struck on the next play. He slightly underthrew a deep pass that Hull came back for, and then Hull turned and ran the last 25 yards for a 69-yard touchdown and a 16-3 right before the opening quarter ended.
The Bulldogs made enough defensive adjustments to hold Rice to one first down and 4 yards in the second quarter to at least stay in range. Their offense, however, offered little in return.
Fresno State was helped by a defensive holding call on fourth-and-7 to reach the 26, but it could only manage another field goal by Koedy Kroenig from 40 yards. Late in the first half and trailing 16-6, Fresno State again went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 18. Burrell threw a quick sideline pass to Greg Watson, only for Bryce Callahan to break through a block and drop him for a 3-yard loss that kept Rice up by 10 at intermission.
Callahan later picked off Burrell's deep throw, and that was the end of Burrell's night. He was replaced by Zack Greenlee, who was equally ineffective.
One drive effectively sealed the game for the Owls. Jackson worked the sidelines beautifully to complete four straight passes and move them down the field on their second drive of the third quarter. On third-and-2, he found Parks down the sideline. Parks stiff-armed linebacker Donavon Lewis and raced into the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown pass and a 23-6 lead.
It was Parks' first touchdown reception of the year, and he went over 100 yards receiving for the first time this season.
Rice padded the lead midway early in the fourth quarter when Jackson hit Darik Dillard on a screen in the left flat, and Dillard sped down to the 1, narrowly missing his stretch to the pylon. Dillard ran it in on the next play.
The Bulldogs got 76 yards on 15 carries from Marteze Waller, but that included runs of 41 and 16 yards.

Central Michigan: 2014 Bahamas Bowl Champions


NASSAU, Bahamas -- Western Kentucky knows its defensive blunders on what became the final touchdown of the Bahamas Bowl will stay on highlight reels for a long, long time.
That's fine with the Hilltoppers -- because they found a way to hang on for an unforgettable win.
Wasting nearly every bit of a 35-point lead and giving up the most improbable of touchdowns on the final play from scrimmage, Western Kentucky overcame a record-setting seven touchdown passes from Cooper Rush and beat Central Michigan 49-48 on Wednesday in the first bowl game played outside the U.S. or Canada since 1937.
"There's been a lot of twists and turns to all of our games," Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm said.
Not like this.
Central Michigan (7-6) scored the final five touchdowns of the game, including a three-lateral, 75-yard dazzler on the final play where six Chippewas -- one center, one quarterback and four receivers -- touched the ball. Officially, it went down as a touchdown pass to Titus Davis by Rush, his seventh scoring toss of the day, one more than anyone had ever thrown in any bowl game.
Central Michigan went for a 2-point conversion and the win, only to have it broken up by Western Kentucky's Wonderful Terry.
A wonderful finish, indeed.
"I want to tell Central Michigan that's one heck of a job by them," Brohm said. "They showed the heart and spirit that this game is all about."
Here's how the miracle happened:
The Chippewas got the ball on their own 25 with a second remaining after a punt, trailing 49-42. Rush threw deep to Jesse Kroll, who caught the ball between three defenders at the 29. Kroll advanced the ball slightly before lateraling to Deon Butler, who got the ball to Courtney Williams just before getting tackled.
Williams then tossed the ball to Davis, who caught it at the 15 and outran three Western Kentucky players to the end zone, reaching to knock over the pylon as he fell out of bounds to complete the bizarre play.
Central Michigan coach Dan Enos said he originally planned to kick the extra point. He then changed his mind, a decision that's surely going to be debated.
"Cooper had thrown seven touchdown passes already in the game, so we figured he was pretty hot," Enos said. "We didn't want to go to overtime because we had trouble stopping them all day. We thought we had momentum so we'd try to win the game."
When the conversion pass hit the ground, only then could the Hilltoppers exhale.
"It was a roller-coaster ride," said Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty, who threw five touchdowns pass to increase his nation-leading total to 49 on the season. "We were just lucky and blessed that we got the win."
Very lucky.
The ending largely overshadowed a huge day by Doughty, who threw for 486 yards.
Doughty completed 31 of 42 passes for the Hilltoppers (8-5) and capped the sixth-highest single-season touchdown total in major college football history. Anthony Wales and Leon Allen added touchdown runs for the Hilltoppers.
Rush threw for 485 yards. He never had more than three touchdowns in a college game, and wound up being credited with five in the final 12 minutes for the Chippewas.
"We just kept grinding away, taking it one play at a time," Rush said. "From the huddle we just kept saying, `One play at a time.' And next thing you know we look up and the score's getting closer and closer and that's when you know you've got a chance to win it."
The teams finished with 1,254 yards of offense, 647 by Western Kentucky. McNeal caught five passes for 155 yards for the Hilltoppers, who got 95 yards rushing from Wales.
Davis had 147 receiving yards and four touchdown grabs, including the one on the final play, for Central Michigan. The finish was one that Brohm understandably likened to the infamous Stanford-Cal, multi-lateral finish with the Cardinal band already on the field -- known simply as "The Play" that gave the Golden Bears a 25-20 win in 1982.
"This one may have been even better," Brohm said, "other than there wasn't a band on the field."
This game was the first of a planned run of at least six years of bowl matchups in the Bahamas.
They'll be hard-pressed to see another one like this.

Season's Greetings from the Bedlam on Baltic Avenue.





After burning the midnight oil on another Saimoe fic and then running some errands and wrapping up the training on my newly-acquired caddies in Cien and Clear Papel on Pangya, my schedule has gotten shockingly lighter heading into Christmas morning. My focus right now is getting ready for another Rose Parade that I plan to check out next week in Pasadena. The Oregon and Florida State fans are getting hyped up for this one, although I will be coming into the game and parade as a relative neutral. At long last, college football has a playoff at the highest level. About damn time.







Meanwhile, while checking out the Lucky Pouches, I ended up acquiring two new rares: the High Elfen Ears for Azer (who I almost never play as) and Bunnie Set for Hana, which allows me to now play as my main more than ever. I also acquired the Christmas Dress set for Hana R, but I had already cleared the accomplishments for that character, meaning I could focus on getting my Classic Hana to 1,000 games.








With the acquisition of the Bunnie Set, the Furry Friends set for Hana, my chances of hitting Pangya are better than ever. I like Hana in her classic form when she has shorter hair, although the Bunnie Ears look like a souped up version of The Swift hairstyle. However, it matches well with her 2013 swimsuit. I do want to get her 2011 swimsuit instead, which matches her Bunnie Set better.





That's the thing: the Furry Friends Set for the girls always go great with the bikinis because it draws out the youthful spirit. So now I am stuck wearing this set for Hana into the new year. I will play as Madoka every now and then, but not as much. I could get used to this combo for a while.

Season's greetings from the Bedlam, where there's always something going on around here.





Africa



I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers 
Of some quiet
Conversation
She's coming in
Twelve-thirty flight
Her moonlit wings 
Reflect the stars 
That guide me towards
Salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some 
Old forgotten words
Or ancient melodies
He turned to me
As if to say:
"Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

It's gonna take a lot
To drag me away from you
There's nothing that
A hundred men 
Or more 
Could ever do
I bless the rains
Down in Africa
Gonna take some time 
To do the things
We never had



The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless 
Longing for some solitary 
Company
I know that I must do
What's right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises 
Like Olympus
Above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, 
Frightened of this thing 
That I've become

It's gonna take a lot
To drag me away from you
There's nothing that
A hundred men 
Or more
Could ever do
I bless the rains
Down in Africa
Gonna take some time 
To do the things
We never had



Hurry boy,
She's waiting there for you...

It's gonna take a lot
To drag me away from you
There's nothing that
A hundred men 
Or more
Could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains 
Down in Africa
I bless the rains down 
In Africa
I bless the rains down in 
Africa
I bless 
The rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time 
To do the things
We never had...


Navy: 2014 Poinsettia Bowl Champions



Any blooper reel of the 2014 bowl season will be centered around the fourth quarter of Navy's 17-16 win over San Diego State.
The final 15 minutes of the game featured four turnovers, an incredibly confusing officiating sequence, an odd choice to go for it on fourth down and a missed game-winning field goal that ultimately gave Navy the victory.
Let's start with the missed field goal. After Austin Grebe put Navy up by a point with 1:27 left, San Diego State got into Navy territory after QB Quinn Kaehler hit WR Eric Judge for a 32-yard gain (Judge was ruled to have fumbled on the play – the fifth turnover of the fourth quarter – but the fumble was overturned). Four plays later, an incomplete pass set up a 34-yard field goal attempt for Donny Hageman, who was 3-3 on field goals throughout the game.
But on his fourth attempt, Hageman simply pushed it way right from the left hash. Navy got the ball back with 20 seconds to go and SDSU only had one timeout. The game was over.
Now on to the confusing officiating. On Navy's go-ahead drive, the Midshipmen went for it on fourth-and-one with 3:43 left at the San Diego State 44. The call was a fullback dive to Chris Swain, who rumbled for 13 yards and fumbled after he tumbled to the ground at the 31. While the play was being blown dead, SDSU's Damontae Kazee instinctively picked up the ball. As Navy's Jamir Tillman attempted to tackle him, Tillman grabbed Kazee's facemask.
A flag was thrown and after Swain was ruled to be down by contact before the fumble, the facemask was assessed against SDSU. While Swain's non-fumble was being reviewed, the officials gathered together and it was apparent from the TV cameras that one official was saying the penalty was against Navy.
After the review, which didn't overturn the fumble that the ground clearly caused, Navy was assessed a 15-yard penalty for a facemask foul that happened on a tackle that officially didn't happen. Snce the ball was blown dead on the field and via the review, Kazee's recovery meant nothing. However, the penalty was marked off and instead of having first down at the 31, Navy had a first down two yards behind where the fourth-and-one play took place.
Grebe's field goal happened six plays later.
The Navy drive was set up by a fumble by SDSU's Donnel Pumphrey with just under six minutes left. That turnover was the seventh of the game and the fourth turnover in six fourth quarter possessions. Navy had four fumbles, including two in the final quarter, and SDSU's other turnover of the final period came via an interception.
And while the seven turnovers aren't the highest tally of the young bowl season as the Miami Beach Bowl had nine, at least the Miami Beach Bowl was a pointsapalooza. The Poinsettia Bowl was a slog. SDSU started with the ball inside Navy territory after three of the Midshipmen's fumbles. Two drives turned into field goals.
The third, which ended with 8:45 left in the fourth quarter, ended on downs. With the Aztecs leading 16-14, SDSU coach Rocky Long head-scratchingly eschewed a 29-yard field goal attempt that potentially would have given the team a five-point lead and made Grebe's field goal late in the game a non-entity.
On fourth-and-five from the 12, San Diego State passed the ball instead of kicking the field goal. Kaehler's pass fell incomplete and Navy had the ball back still down two.
With the win, the Midshipmen finish the season 8-5. San Diego State ends 2014 at 7-6.

Marshall: 2014 Boca Raton Bowl Champions


BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Quarterback Rakeem Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler have played together since high school, so they were able to communicate without a lot of conversation Tuesday in their final game for Marshall.
''We don't need to talk,'' Shuler said. ''Just a head nod.''
What does a head nod mean?
''I'm open.''
He was, time and time again. Shuler and Cato capped their careers with record-setting performances in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl to help Marshall beat Northern Illinois 52-23.
Cato tied an NCAA mark for touchdown passes, threw for three scores and was voted the most valuable player. Shuler had 18 receptions for 185 yards and broke the Conference USA record for career catches with 322.
Cato and Shuler were high school teammates in nearby Miami, and they gave a large throng of family and friends plenty to cheer about.
''To do that playing your final game in your backyard is special,'' Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. ''They're just tremendous players, and they're great friends.''
Marshall finished 13-1, with its lone loss to Western Kentucky, 67-66 in overtime. Northern Illinois finished 11-3.
''Give credit to Marshall; they made a ton of plays,'' Huskies coach Rod Carey said. ''I didn't think we played real well, and that's too bad because we've had an unbelievable season.''
Cato extended his streak of throwing at least one touchdown pass to 46 consecutive games. That tied the NCAA all-division record set by Central Washington's Mike Reilly.
As usual, Cato's favorite target was Shuler.
''Anybody who knows Shuler, against a man-to-man matchup, he's going to hurt you,'' Cato said. ''I'm going to continue to go at him until they show me something different, and they didn't show me anything different.''
Cato finished the season with a school-record 40 touchdown passes. He threw for scores of 6 yards to Shuler, 11 yards to Angelo Jean-Louis and 27 yards to Deon-Tay McManus.
All of those touchdowns came in the second half. Cato completed 25 of 37 passes for 281 yards and ran 5 yards for a score.
''Cato made the plays when he needed to,'' Huskies safety Dechane Durante said.
The game drew a crowd of less than 15,000 in Florida Atlantic's 30,000-seat stadium, but both coaches praised the inaugural event.
''This will be a huge bowl,'' Holliday said. ''The community has embraced this bowl, and when all is said and done, it's going to be one of the best bowls in America.''
Marshall tried a bit of trickery early in the game, when Shuler took the ball and lobbed it into the end zone to Cato for an 11-yard touchdown. But the play was negated by a penalty.
''If Tommy wouldn't have made such a bad pass, we would've had it,'' Holliday said with a grin.
The tandem did better with Cato throwing. All seven of his completions in the first half went to Shuler.
''He made tough catches and easy catches and made people miss,'' Carey said.
Cato wore No. 31 instead of his familiar No. 12 to honor teammate Evan McKelvey, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in October.
Deandre Reaves scored Marshall's first touchdown on a 93-yard kickoff return. Devon Johnson ran for 131 yards and a score for the Thundering Herd, who totaled 505 yards
The Huskies' Drew Hare threw for 225 yards and a score, and they added 200 on the ground. They outgained Marshall in the first half but trailed 24-13 because they settled for field goal tries three times and missed one.
Northern Illinois pulled off a successful onside kick to start the second half but lost the ball four plays later when Arnold Blackmon stopped Cameron Stingily for no gain on fourth and 1 at midfield.
The Thundering Herd mounted touchdown drives of 56, 68 and 70 yards on consecutive possessions in the second half to lead 38-20.
The win gave the Thundering Herd bowl victories in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-02.