Monday, December 25, 2017

12.25.2017



Season's Greetings
From The Bedlam on Baltic Avenue.

Fresno State: 2017 Hawaii Bowl Champions



HONOLULU -- Marcus McMaryion could not have envisioned this success when he joined Fresno State four months ago.

McMaryion threw for a career-best 342 yards and Jimmy Camacho made four field goals to help Fresno State beat Houston 33-27 on Sunday in the Hawaii Bowl.

The Oregon State-transfer completed 33 of 48 passes to tie the Hawaii bowl record for completions set by Hawaii's Colt Brennan against Arizona State in 2006 and also matched by Fresno State's Derek Carr against SMU in 2012.

"I definitely came to just kind of help out and change the program, but I would be lying if I told you that I thought I'd be standing in this position right now, but I'm just glad that I was able to experience it with these guys," said McMaryion, who joined the team in early August as a junior.

"I think I fell into a really good situation. When I got here the guys had the attitude and the work ethic and someone else said that I was just the cherry on top of it. The work ethic and everything was instilled that coach (Jeff) Tedford brought here, so it was just a great year overall and it's great to finish with a `W," McMaryion said.

The Bulldogs (10-4) had their first 10-win season in five years and completed the biggest turnaround in FBS this season. They went 1-11 last year and became just the second team in FBS history to go from double-digit losses one season to double-digit wins the next.

"It's a great way to end the season here in Hawaii after a great week with win number 10, but it's all about these kids," Tedford said.

The Cougars (7-5) were seeking their fifth consecutive season of eight or more wins.

Camacho was busy in his final game for Fresno State. He attempted six field goals, with makes of 27, 38, 26 and 33 yards, but missed a 56-yarder in the second quarter -- which would have been a career long -- and had a 24-yard try blocked and returned for a touchdown in the third quarter. Camacho broke the Hawaii Bowl record for field goals.

Fresno State finished with 480 yards of total offense to Houston's 341.

Defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy, had his first career carry -- a 1-yard touchdown run -- to cap Houston's first scoring drive in the first quarter.

Camacho lined up a 24-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter, but it was blocked by Houston's Jeremy Winchester and returned 94 yards for a touchdown by Alexander Myres.

The Bulldogs took the lead for good on Camacho's 26-yard field goal with 13:57 left to play and stretched the lead to 26-20 with his 33-yarder with six minutes remaining.

Jaron Bryant's 44-yard interception return for a TD off a deflection with 3:49 wrapped up the win. D'Eriq King's pass was batted up in the air by defensive end Robert Stanley and fell into the hands of Bryant, who maneuvered his way along the left sideline for the score.

KeeSean Johnson caught eight passes for 95 yards for Fresno State and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

Steven Dunbar, one of two senior receivers for the Cougars, had seven receptions for 168 yards.

McMaryion and Dunbar were selected as the game's most valuable players for each team.

THE TAKEAWAY

Houston: The Cougars brought the second-best completion percentage in the country at 70.1 percent. King completed 23 of his 43 pass attempts (53.5 percent) for 269 yards with an interception

Fresno State: The Bulldogs entered allowing 116.6 rushing yards per game, the fifth-best mark in FBS. They held the Cougars to 72 rush yards -- well below their per-game average of 175.5 -- on 30 carries, an average of just 2.4 yards per attempt.

UP NEXT

Houston, which must replace five starters on each side of the ball, will open its 2018 campaign on the road, but not far from home, when it visits Rice on Sept. 1.

Fresno State will lose a total of five starters from this year's squad. It will start off Tedford's sophomore season at his alma mater at home against Idaho on Sept. 1.

Appalachian State: 2017 Dollar General Bowl Champions



MOBILE, Ala. -- Appalachian State's improved defense was a huge reason the program closed the regular season on a three-game winning streak and won a share of the Sun Belt Conference title.

The Mountaineers saved the best for last in a Dollar General Bowl blowout.

Appalachian State's swarming, opportunistic defense was the catalyst for an impressive 34-0 victory over Toledo on Saturday night. The Rockets came into the game averaging nearly 40 points per game, but fell behind early and looked completely overmatched. They managed just 146 total yards while turning the ball over four times.

"When we get a little bit of a lead, that's when we're really dangerous," Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said. "Once we get that lead and our defense has their bearing straight, the other team starts forcing the ball down the field and that's when we get turnovers."

Appalachian State's defense had improved during the season's final few weeks, giving up just 10 points per game in wins over Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette. The performance against the Rockets was even better. Linebacker Anthony Flory led the Mountaineers with eight tackles and intercepted a pass in the first quarter that helped shift the momentum.

"The defense has just been really solid," Satterfield said. "They've tackled well over the last month and haven't given up the big play."

The Mountaineers' offense had a good night as well, especially on the ground. Jalin Moore, who was the game's Most Valuable Player, ran for 125 yards and a career-high three touchdowns to lead a running game that finished with 327 yards.

"It meant everything sending these guys out with a `W' like this," Moore said. "I stressed a lot about it. I knew what was at stake. I just tried to play a perfect game for myself and for my boys. It's kind of emotional."

Senior quarterback Taylor Lamb, who was starting his 49th straight game, threw for 131 yards.

Appalachian State (9-4) won its third straight bowl game since making the complete transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2015.

It was the second straight year the two programs had met in the postseason. Appalachian State beat Toledo in a hard-fought 31-28 victory in the Camellia Bowl in 2016 just a few hours up the interstate in Montgomery, Alabama.

The rematch in Mobile turned out to be a dud.

Toledo's Logan Woodside threw for 124 yards and three interceptions. He had just five interceptions through the season's first 13 games before Saturday.

"I feel like I let my team down a little bit," Woodside said. "Give App State a lot of credit, they had me force a couple balls downfield that were uncharacteristic of myself. But overall, you can't take away what we did this season."

THE TAKEAWAY

Appalachian State: It was an impressive performance for the Mountaineers, especially on defense. Even during the rare moments when Toledo would have some success on offense, Appalachian State always seemed to force a turnover at a crucial juncture.

Toledo: This was one to forget for the Rockets. The offense looked out of sync all night and Appalachian State's running game methodically picked apart Toledo's defense.

UP NEXT



Appalachian State: The Mountaineers lose several seniors, including their four-year starting quarterback. But Appalachian State has firmly established itself as one of the elite teams in the Sun Belt since making the transition from FCS to FBS and that's unlikely to change any time soon as long as coach Scott Satterfield is leading the way.

Toledo: The Rockets will have a lot of rebuilding to do, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Toledo will have to find a new quarterback and rebuild its offensive line, which will lose four starters. The good news is 38-year-old coach Jason Candle is coming back after leading the program to an 11-win season.

Army: 2017 Armed Forces Bowl Champions



FORT WORTH, Texas -- Army coach Jeff Monken was able to joke afterward.

"We had `em all the way," Monken deadpanned.

It wasn't quite that easy for the Black Knights.

Darnell Woolfolk scored on a 1-yard run with 18 seconds left, Kell Walker converted a go-ahead 2-point run and Army added a last-play defensive touchdown for a 42-35 victory over San Diego State on Saturday in the Armed Forces Bowl.

After Rashaad Penny's fourth touchdown run of the game gave San Diego State (10-3) a 35-28 lead with 5:47 to play, Army (10-3) drove 72 yards for the tying score and winning conversion.

"It was tough, but we were confident we'd move the ball," Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw said.

On the Aztecs' final play, they made multiple laterals from their 40. The final lateral was grabbed by Army's Elijah Riley, who returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.

The Black Knights tied a school record for wins set by the 1996 team.

Penny ran for 221 yards, his fifth straight game of at least 200 yards. His scores came on runs of 81, on his first carry, 31, 49 and 4 yards.

Juwan Washington added the Aztecs' other touchdown on a 78-yard kickoff return in the first half's closing seconds.

"Obviously, Rashaad and Juwan had a great night," Aztecs coach Rocky Long said. "Our defense played really, really poorly. And that's coaching. So, that's my fault."

Army dominated the time of possession. The Black Knights ran 91 plays to the Aztecs' 30 and held the ball for 46:00 to San Diego State's 13:53.

"That's our brand of football," Monken said. "We don't have anybody like they have -- when you break through the line, it's six points."

Woolfolk ran for two touchdowns, and Bradshaw and Andy Davidson ran for one each.

Monken said there was no doubt the Black Knights would go for two points if they pulled within one in the closing minutes with a touchdown.

"That No. 20, Rashaad Penny -- if we went into overtime, he's going to get the ball in his hands again," Monken said. "There's no way I wanted to watch that anymore."

Walker took the pitch and raced toward the right corner of the end zone.

"Our O-line did a tremendous job," Walker said. "All I had to do was catch it and run."

THE TAKEAWAY

San Diego State: The Aztecs went into the game ranked ninth in FBS rush defense, allowing 110.4 yards per game. Army ran for 120 in the first quarter and 440 overall.

Army: The Black Knights went into the game ranked last in the FBS averaging 29.6 passing yards per game. They went 1-for-4 passing for 6 yards, including receiver Kjetil Cline throwing an interception.

RUNNING RECORDS FALL

Penny finished with a school-record 2,248 rushing yards this season, breaking the mark set last season by Donnel Pumphrey. He said afterward the record doesn't mean anything since the Aztecs finished with a loss. Penny also became the fourth FBS player ever to run for 200 yards in five straight games.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Army's seniors progressed from records of 4-8 and 2-10 during their first two seasons to 8-5 and 10-3, with two straight wins over Navy and the school's first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy since 1996.

"We flipped the script last year and built the foundation that we're still building to where 10-win seasons are now the expectation," linebacker Alex Aukerman said.



UP NEXT

San Diego State: Having produced 2,000-yard rushers each of the past two seasons, the Aztecs will look to Washington as their primary ball carrier in 2018. The 5-foot-7, 190-pounder ran for 759 yards this season as a sophomore. The Aztecs, with seven starters each returning on offense and defense, will open at Stanford on Sept. 1.

Army: While the academy's public affairs office stated two weeks ago that senior Bradshaw would spend an additional year at West Point, he said following Saturday's play: "This is my last game." The Black Knights will open at Duke on Sept. 1. 


South Florida: 2017 Birmingham Bowl Champions



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Quinton Flowers did it again at the Birmingham Bowl, launching another winning touchdown throw with a game against a Power 5 team on the line.

Flowers threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants with 16 seconds left to give No. 23 South Florida a 38-34 victory over Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday.

Flowers led the Bulls (10-2) to a second straight dramatic victory in the bowl game at Legion Field, throwing for a pair of touchdowns in the final 4:26 after struggling in the first half.

"I was telling myself, I've got to hit my guys in the chest," Flowers said. "I've got to put the ball in their chest and just give them a chance. I just went out there and my coach called the play that I wanted and thank God Tyre did what he was supposed to do and I did what I was supposed to do and we came out with the victory."

The Bulls, who are 21-4 the past two seasons, won last year's Birmingham Bowl on Flowers' 25-yard touchdown pass in overtime against South Carolina.

The Red Raiders (6-7) had taken the lead back with Nic Shimonek's 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open T.J. Vasher in the end zone with 1:31 remaining. That left Flowers with plenty of time to work, it turns out.

He ran 13 and 21 yards for first downs, the latter coming on a third-and-10 play. Then he found McCants on their second scoring connection.

The senior passed for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran 14 times for 106 yards and a fifth score. Marquez Valdes-Scantling gained 133 yards on three catches.

Shimonek took Texas Tech across midfield in the final seconds but his desperation pass on the run was completed well short of the end zone.

Shimonek, who had led a fourth-quarter comeback in the regular-season finale against Texas, completed 32 of 59 passes for 416 yards. This time the Red Raiders couldn't seal the deal.

"That's really exactly what was going through my mind," Shimonek said. "It was almost the same exact type scenario (as Texas)."

He threw for three touchdowns and was intercepted twice on deflected balls.

Keke Coutee had 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown while Justin Stockton ran for 103 yards.

The Red Raiders set up two touchdowns in the third quarter off fumble recoveries, taking a 24-17 lead. The defense helped preserve the lead with a pair of fourth down stops, including a goal line stand. Quentin Yontz stuffed Darius Tice from inside the 1 early in the fourth, but Flowers wound up getting the ball back across midfield.

He cashed in this time with a 5-yard touchdown run to tie it with 9:30 left.

"Defensively, it was stop after stop that we had to go get," first-year South Florida coach Charlie Strong said.

"And even for our offense, they had two turnovers and then they had two big fourth-down stops and our offense just continued to play."

THE TAKEAWAY

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders couldn't translate a 249-130 edge in first-half yards into an advantage on the scoreboard. They converted 10 of 19 third downs.

South Florida: Flowers had a terrific second half after going 4-of-14 passing for 52 yards in the first. He concluded it on a 21-yard touchdown pass to McCants with 51 seconds left to tie it, 10-all. ... Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat had three first-half sacks for South Florida, matching his season total coming into the bowl.

FLOWERS RECORDS



Flowers became the American Athletic Conference's career leader in total offense with a 21-yard touchdown pass late in the first half. He broke the mark of 11,431 yards held by Temple's Phillip Walker. Flowers also set school records for career touchdown passes and rushing yards, finishing with 34 school or conference marks.

PENALTIES GALORE: Both teams were penalized 10 times, with Texas Tech flagged for 107 yards and South Florida for 100.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech: Shimonek and leading rusher Stockton are seniors, while all but two defensive starters have eligibility remaining. Coutee is a junior who said he hasn't made a decision on whether to enter the NFL draft.

South Florida: The Bulls must replace Flowers, plus leading receiver Valdes-Scantling and tailback D'Ernest Johnson on offense and eight starters on defense. Leading tackler Auggie Sanchez leaves a big hole to fill.