Photo: Denis Poroy / Associated Press
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Northwestern converted three Utah turnovers into 21 points in a dizzying nine-minute stretch in the pouring rain in the third quarter of the Holiday Bowl, including Jared McGee’s 82-yard fumble return for a touchdown, and the Wildcats beat the Utes 31-20 on Monday in San Diego.
Northwestern (9-5) scored 28 points in the third quarter to win its third straight bowl game under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Utah (9-5) cruised to a 20-3 halftime lead behind redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Shelley before it all fell apart in the third quarter. Shelley had two interceptions and a fumble.
Northwestern senior Clayton Thorson completed 21 of 30 passes for 241 yards, giving him a school-record 10,731 yards for his career. Brett Basanez (10,580) had held the mark.
Utah lost for the just the second time in its past 16 bowls dating to 1999. Head coach Kyle Whittingham’s bowl record dropped to 11-2. He was trying to become the first person to win the Holiday Bowl as a player and coach. He played in the first four Holiday Bowls with BYU, going 2-2.
Gator Bowl: In Jacksonville, Fla., Trayveon Williams ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns as Texas A&M (9-4) cruised to a 52-13 victory against North Carolina State (9-4). Williams broke the Gator Bowl’s record of 216 yards rushing set by Syracuse’s Floyd Little in 1966 against Tennessee. Texas A&M ended 2018 with a four-game winning streak and broke a three-game postseason skid. “The most important thing is we got that bowl win, that bowl win that we’ve been missing out on the last four or five seasons,” Williams said. “We got that. We’re definitely molding and showing this program is going in a new direction.”
Liberty Bowl: In Memphis, Taylor Cornelius threw four touchdown passes and Kolby Peel made a critical fourth-down stop with 1:01 left as Oklahoma State edged Missouri 38-33. Missouri (8-5) faced 4th-and-1 when quarterback Drew Lock attempted a keeper around the right end. Peel made an ankle tackle that stopped Lock short of the first-down marker. “It’s a game of inches, we all talk about it and know it,” Missouri head coach Barry Odom said. Peel’s tackle allowed the Cowboys (7-6) to snap Missouri’s four-game winning streak.
Military Bowl: Michael Warren, who rushed for 166 yards, scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 8-yard run with 1:29 left as Cincinnati beat Virginia Tech 35-31 in Annapolis, Md. The victory gave Cincinnati (11-2) its third 11-win season in the 131-year history of the program following two straight 4-8 finishes. Virginia Tech (6-7) finished with a losing record for the first time since 1992.
Briefly: Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who had been introduced as the next head coach at Temple on Dec. 13, backed out of that deal to return to Miami as its head coach. He succeeds Mark Richt, who announced his retirement Sunday. … Mississippi hired Rich Rodriguez as its offensive coordinator. Rodriguez, who has been the head coach at West Virginia and Michigan, was fired from his position as Arizona’s head coach last January amid sexual-harassment allegations by a former administrative assistant. … Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and Florida defensive end Jachai Polite each announced that he is leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Utah-turnovers-help-Northwestern-win-Holiday-Bowl-13501308.php.