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College Gridiron 365

Cure Bowl 2022 | Troy won 18-12 against UT-San Antonio

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In Friday’s Duluth Trading Cure Bowl, Troy won 18-12 against UT-San Antonio, playing its best football in the second half.

Troy (12-2) shut out Roadrunner (11-3) in the second half and scored 18 unanswered points. Just 169 yards of total offense were recorded. Five turnovers were forced.

Troy has the greatest winning streak among FBS schools in Jon Sumrall’s first year as head coach, finishing with an 11-game streak. It ties for third-longest with No. 1 Georgia (15 straight wins) and No. 2 Michigan (13). The Trojans’ 12 wins are their most since becoming an FBS program in 2001, tying the school record set by a 1996 squad that went 12-1 and made it to the FCS semifinals.

Because Troy finished Friday ranked No. 24 in the College Football Playoff committee rankings, the Trojans should finish the year in the Top 25 for the first time as an FBS program. After going 15-19 over three consecutive losing seasons, the 2022 season will be a success for Troy, including a Sun Belt Conference championship.

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UTSA held a 12-7 lead at the break as Troy had just 66 yards of total offense. The Trojans scored just before halftime after UTSA committed three penalties and Troy intercepted a pass that Clifford Chatman fumbled right back to Troy.

With 50 seconds left in the half, Vidal crashed into the end zone from the 2 to pull the Trojans within five points. UTSA’s Kelechi Nwachuku intercepted Watson in the end zone with 16 seconds left, preventing the Trojans from capitalizing on a Jubinor interception.

UTSA jumped out to an early lead in the game, taking a 2-0 lead after one quarter when a shotgun snap sailed past unprepared Watson and landed out of bounds for a safety. The Roadrunners drove 75 yards in 15 plays for a touchdown on the free kick, which was converted into a 9-0 lead with 12:30 remaining in the second quarter. UTSA later kicked a 42-yard field goal to make it 12-0.

With 9:18 left in the game, Brooks Buice kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 18-12. No. 25 UT-San Antonio, the Conference USA champions, had two more chances to take the lead.

With 8 minutes to go in the game, Roadrunners running back Kevorian Barnes took off for a 53-yard run to the Troy 5, where safety Dell Pettus saved the day by tackling him. On second-and-goal, quarterback Frank Harris threw to wide-open Chris Carpenter in the end zone, but Carpenter simply dropped the ball without being touched.

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UTSA took over at the Trojan 43 with 2:41 left in the half after Troy punted. Harris threw two more incompletions, neither of which was particularly close, to turn the ball over on downs.

Troy cornerback Reddy Steward broke up Harris’ deep pass on fourth down with 1:32 left, allowing the Trojans to run out the clock for the victory. A hook-and-lateral play on second down only gained one yard.

Despite Barnes’ 132 rushing yards and Harris’ 198 passing yards, UTSA was unable to convert on third down (3-for-12) or avoid committing eight penalties for 89 yards. Those four consecutive turnovers late in the second quarter and early in the third allowed the Trojans to come back.

UTSA appeared to be in control of the game with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, leading 12-7. Linebacker KJ Robertson intercepted Harris at the Roadrunners’ 2, then returned the ball 61 yards to the UTSA 37.

On third-and-4, UTSA pushed the ball to the UTSA 22 after Kimani Vidal, who rushed for 73 yards on 22 carries in the game, was penalized 15 yards for personal foul. On the next play, Watson hit Johnson for the go-ahead score.

Troy produced just 113 yards through the air, and Watson was knocked down six times. The Trojans didn’t achieve 100 yards of total offence until late in the third quarter.

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Richard Jubinor had an interception, a sack, and a forced fumble for Troy, while Steward had three pass breakups and nine tackles in addition to his interception.

Troy’s linebacker Carlton Martial, the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 14 tackles to lead the way once again. With 577 tackles, he finishes his career as the FBS record holder for most tackles, 52 more than any other major-college player in history.

In the fourth quarter, Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson connected with tight end Colin Ollendieck for a touchdown and two points, giving the Trojans a 15-12 lead. The Trojans have won six out of seven bowl games, including the last five.

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College Gridiron 365

Kansas State Triumphs 28-19 Over NC State in Pop-Tarts Bowl Clash

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

Kansas State emerges victorious with a 28-19 win over NC State in the highly anticipated Pop-Tarts Bowl, setting Orlando abuzz with excitement.

Despite a valiant effort in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on Thursday night, the Wolfpack fell short in overcoming an early deficit, succumbing to Kansas State with a final score of 28-19.

The Wolfpack concludes their season with a 9-4 record, narrowly missing the chance to etch their name in school history with only the second 10-win campaign. The elusive feat was last achieved in 2002 with Philip Rivers at the helm, guiding the team to an impressive 11-3 record.

Facing the challenge without their All-America linebacker Payton Wilson, who opted to sit out the game in preparation for the draft, the No. 19 NC State struggled to contain the running game early on. The Pack found themselves in a tough spot as Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson connected with DJ Giddens for a 37-yard score on fourth down, establishing a 7-0 lead.

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With Wilson absent from the lineup, Kansas State exploited the gap, amassing 258 yards on the ground, with Giddens contributing 151 yards. Despite NC State quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s 31-yard touchdown run against Kansas State on Thursday night, the Wolfpack was unable to seize control, never holding an advantage and only narrowing the gap to a two-point margin.

At the close of the second quarter, Kansas State maintained a lead of 21-7, with the halftime score standing at 21-10. NC State injected some intrigue into the game in the third quarter with a bit of trickery. Trent Pennix’s 60-yard touchdown run off a fake punt reduced the deficit to 21-19 with 1:50 left in the period.

The Wolfpack’s attempt to level the score was thwarted as Armstrong was taken down during the two-point conversion attempt. In his inaugural game as a freshman, quarterback Johnson, stepping in after Will Howard’s departure, threw for 178 yards, ran for an additional 71 yards, and orchestrated a decisive 15-play, 72-yard drive in the fourth quarter.

The game-clinching moment came as Jayce Brown secured an 8-yard TD pass from Johnson with a mere 2:48 left on the clock. Any hopes of a Wolfpack comeback were dashed when Parrish intercepted Armstrong on their subsequent offensive play.

Armstrong’s performance in the final game included running for 121 yards, scoring one touchdown, and passing for 164 yards. The Wildcats of Kansas State concluded the season with a commendable 9-4 record.

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College Gridiron 365

USF Bulls Secure Bowl Glory: Crush Syracuse 45-0

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In a spectacular display of prowess, the USF football team, under first-year head coach Alex Golesh, ended its season on a high note with a resounding 45-0 victory over Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl. The win marked USF’s first bowl victory since 2017 and a significant turnaround, securing a winning record for the first time since 2018.

The Bulls’ defense played a pivotal role in the triumph, forcing four turnovers, including two scoop-and-score touchdowns, and orchestrating their first complete game shutout since 2009. Defensive MVP Daquan Evans led the charge with five tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble returned for a touchdown. Special Teams MVP Aamaris Brown-Bunkley contributed by returning a botched field goal attempt for a touchdown and adding three tackles.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown, named Offensive MVP, delivered a stellar performance, completing 19 of 26 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Brown also showcased his versatility by rushing for a team-best 64 yards on 14 carries and even catching a 21-yard pass from Sean Atkins. Brown became only the second Bull to surpass 4,000 total yards in a season, finishing with 4,101 yards.

Atkins, the Bulls’ first 1,000-yard receiver, secured six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulls’ offensive prowess propelled them to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Brown’s connection with Atkins and a 31-yard touchdown pass to Khafre Brown highlighted the offensive dominance. John Cannon’s 40-yard field goal further extended the lead to 24-0.

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The defense continued its relentless performance, with Evans forcing another fumble, and Tramel Logan returning it 61 yards for a touchdown, making it 31-0 at halftime. USF’s defense held Syracuse to just 159 yards, 10 punts, and a mere nine first downs throughout the game, limiting them to 1-of-17 on third downs.

The second half saw Tavin Ward intercepting Syracuse’s first possession, setting up Brown for a 35-yard touchdown pass to Atkins, further widening the gap to 38-0. Nay’Quan Wright’s two-yard touchdown plunge in the early fourth quarter sealed the deal at 45-0.

The victory marked USF’s largest margin of victory in a bowl game and its fourth bowl win against an autonomous “power” conference program. The Bulls outgained Syracuse 407 to 159, with notable individual achievements from Brown, Atkins, and Logan.

Looking ahead, USF has already welcomed 25 new recruits on the first day of the NCAA Early Signing period, securing a top-class ranking in The American and among non-autonomous “power” programs. The Bulls will shift their focus to spring practice in March, building on the momentum gained from their outstanding Boca Raton Bowl triumph.

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College Gridiron 365

USF Bulls Secure Bowl Berth with Dominant Victory Over Charlotte

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In a triumphant display on Senior Night at Raymond James Stadium, the USF football team (6-6; 4-4 American) punched their ticket to the postseason, securing a resounding 48-14 victory over Charlotte (3-9; 2-6 American). The Bulls celebrated not only the achievements of 16 seniors but also the program’s 11th bowl berth, marking the end of a drought since 2018.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown led the charge with another stellar performance, throwing for 253 yards and four touchdowns. Brown’s remarkable day also included 43 yards rushing and a touchdown, making him the first Bull to surpass 3,000 passing yards in a season, with his 2023 total reaching an impressive 3,078.

A standout throughout the season, wide receiver Sean Atkins continued his impressive run, logging his seventh-straight game with seven or more receptions. Atkins made seven grabs for 61 yards and a touchdown. Notably, he also showcased his versatility by throwing a 62-yard touchdown pass, becoming the first Bull since 1998 to both catch and throw a touchdown in a single game.

Running back Michel Dukes contributed significantly to the offensive prowess, running for a career-best 104 yards on 15 carries. The Bulls’ offensive excellence was complemented by a robust defensive effort that saw Logan Berryhill securing his third interception of the season, while Mac Harris and Daquan Evans notched their first interceptions.

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Jhalyn Shuler and D.J. Harris led the defensive charge with nine tackles each, playing a crucial role in holding Charlotte to less than 300 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers.

The turning point in the game came just 20 seconds into the second half when Brown connected with Jaden Alexis on a deep pass. Alexis, in a spectacular display of skill, spun his defender around and zigzagged for a 60-yard touchdown, giving USF a commanding 28-7 lead.

Although Charlotte managed a response with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jairus Mack, the Bulls remained undeterred. Brown orchestrated a drive resulting in a field goal and followed it up with a daring onside kick, which USF successfully recovered at their own 46. Brown then capped off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 38-14.

As the Bulls continued to dominate, John Cannon added his second field goal of the day, and USF entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 41-14 lead. The victory marked a five-win turnaround from the previous year, the largest in program history, and a return to the bowl season for the Bulls.

Reflecting on the game and the historic season turnaround, USF fans began to celebrate a bright future for their football program. The Bulls now eagerly await the official announcement of their bowl destination on December 3, savoring the prospect of postseason action for the first time in five seasons.

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