Jacoby Brissett threw for 262 yards and one touchdown and Matt Dayes scored on runs of 24 and 15 yards to help North Carolina State beat Central Florida, 34-27, on Friday night at the St. Petersburg Bowl in Florida.
Brissett threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Alston to put the Wolfpack (8-5) ahead for good in the second quarter. Running back Shadrach Thornton got North Carolina State going early with an 18-yard scoring pass to Jaylen Samuels.
Central Florida (9-4) began the night ranked in the top 10 in fewest yards allowed per game, as well as pass efficiency, rushing and scoring defense. But the co-champions of the American Athletic Conference had no answers for Brissett and a supporting cast that amassed 488 yards of total offense — over 200 more than opponents averaged against the Knights during the regular season.
The freshman running back rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown at Ford Field.
"This is a childhood dream come true," said Hicks, the MVP trophy sitting just above him in his locker. "It is just now hitting me what happened out there. Our O-line was just so good today — they were opening lanes, and all I had to do was hit them.
Senior Gary Nova threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and freshman Robert Martin ran for 100 yards and two scores for the Scarlet Knights (8-5).
Rutgers led, 40-7, before the Tar Heels (6-7) scored twice in the final seven minutes. North Carolina also had two second-half touchdown passes taken away because of interference penalties.
Louisiana Tech 35, Illinois 18: Houston Bates had 4 1/2sacks against his former team to help the Bulldogs' win the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the Cotton Bowl.
Bates graduated from Illinois with a year of eligibility remaining and transferred to Louisiana Tech (9-5) to finish his college career close to home.
Kenneth Dixon scored one of his two touchdowns on an 80-yard reception, and Xavier Woods returned an interception 69 yards for a score for the Bulldogs. Dixon became Louisiana Tech's career rushing leader, finishing with 63 to push his three-season total to 3,410.
Illinois (6-7) struggled early with penalties and missed field goals, but got within three points on David Reisner's 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. But Dixon scored his second touchdown from a yard out with six minutes left to put it out of reach for the Illini.