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Bowl games: Utah edges BYU, which can’t overcome five early turnovers

Dominique Hatfield

Utah defensive back Dominique Hatfield returns an interception for a touchdown against BYU in the first quarter Saturday.

(John Locher / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS -- Utah took advantage of a disastrous start by BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, scoring five first-quarter touchdowns on turnovers — including two interceptions by Tevin Carter — before holding on to beat the Cougars, 35-28, on Saturday.

Carter returned one of the picks for a touchdown and another to the 1 as No. 20 Utah romped to a 35-0 first-quarter lead in the first meeting of the two heated rivals outside of the state of Utah. BYU turned the ball over the first five times it had the ball, with freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum throwing three interceptions and fumbling once.

That was all the scoring Utah (10-3) did, and it nearly cost the Utes the game. Mangum would bring BYU (9-4) back, throwing two touchdown passes and rushing for another with 3:23 left to get the Cougars within one score, but BYU never got the ball back.

Bronco Mendenhall’s last game as BYU coach was almost over even before some of the fans settled into their seats, thanks to an opportunistic Utah defense that forced Mangum to fumble on the third play of the game. Midway through the first quarter, the Utes were already up 28-0.

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Mendenhall, who is leaving BYU (9-4) after 11 seasons to coach at Virginia, failed in his try at win No. 100 at the school. Mendenhall, who wanted to coach the bowl game before leaving, finished his BYU career with a 99-43 record.

Arizona 45, New Mexico 37

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Anu Solomon threw two touchdowns passes and ran for another score to help the Wildcats hold off the pesky Lobos in a wild New Mexico Bowl.

Arizona (7-6) and its quick offense overwhelmed the Lobos (7-6) in a game that saw New Mexico surge late after being down as many of 18 points.

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Jared Baker ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns, and Cayleb Jones had 182 yards receiving and a touchdown. Linebacker Scooby Wright III, who battled injures all season, came back for the bowl game and made two sacks.

For Coach Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats, the New Mexico Bowl win came just a year after Arizona made it to the Pac-12 championship game and eyed a playoff spot.

New Mexico quarterback Lamar Jordan rushed for three touchdowns and threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to Delane Hart-Johnson before leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury.

The Lobos then turned to a committee of running backs to get New Mexico back in the game.

Still, Arizona was able to hold star running back Jhurell Pressley to 75 yards rushing and no touchdowns.

It was New Mexico’s first bowl appearance since 2007 after years of turmoil in the program and, after former Norte Dame coach Bob Davie took over to rebuild. The game at its home-field New Mexico Bowl had excited the city of Albuquerque following the long bowl drought.

Arizona is 9-10-1 in bowl games. New Mexico fell to 3-8-1 in the postseason.

Louisiana Tech 47, Arkansas State 28

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NEW ORLEANS -- Kenneth Dixon had 215 yards from scrimmage and scored four times to become the NCAA’s career touchdowns leader, as Louisiana Tech won the New Orleans Bowl.

Dixon caught six passes for 113 yards and touchdowns of 9 and 59 yards. He carried 21 times for 102 yards, including scoring runs of 8 and 4 yards.

He has 87 touchdowns and 522 points, putting him three TDs and 10 points ahead of Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who plays Monday in the Military Bowl.

Jeff Driskel, a transfer from Florida, closed out his college career by passing for 458 yards and three touchdowns for Louisiana Tech (9-4), which had 687 total yards in finishing a second straight season with a bowl victory.

The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for Arkansas State (9-4), the Sun Belt Conference champion. Taylor Blaise had a 98-yard kickoff return for Arkansas State in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late to mount a comeback.

San Jose State 27, Georgia State 16

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kenny Potter scored on a 42-yard run and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Josh Oliver in San Jose State’s comeback victory over Georgia State in the inaugural Cure Bowl.

Georgia State’s Nick Arbuckle threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns, including a 19-yard scoring pass to Todd Boyd that gave the Panthers (6-7) a 16-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

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Austin Lopez kicked a pair of 19-yard field goals, and Tyler Ervin returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown for the Spartans (6-7).

Ervin rushed 30 times for 132 yards, becoming San Jose State’s single-season rushing leader with 1,601. He also set the mark for most all-purpose yards in a season.

Arbuckle also threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Harden, and set a Sun Belt Conference record for single-season passing yards with 4,354.

Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Zach Matics capped a wild Camellia Bowl with a 23-yard field goal on the final play to lift the Mountaineers to victory.

Appalachian State (11-2) moved from its own 21 in the final 1:42 after rallying from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter only to lose the lead again. It was their first bowl game since moving up to FBS.

Quarterback Taylor Lamb had a 32-yard scramble then handed off to backup tailback Jalin Moore several times. Moore had a tackle-breaking 15-yarder and a 6-yarder to set up the kick by Matics, who missed two earlier attempts.

A safety and Josiah Yazdani’s 21-yard field goal had given Ohio (8-5) the lead in a game where the Bobcats scored two defensive touchdowns after a sluggish start.

MVP Marcus Cox gained 162 yards on 24 carries for Appalachian State, which set a Sun Belt Conference record for wins in just its second season in FBS.

North Carolina A&T 41, Alcorn State 34

ATLANTA -- Tarik Cohen rushed for 295 yards and touchdowns of 83, 74 and 73 yards Saturday, and North Carolina A&T used a slew of big plays for the win in the Celebration Bowl at the Georgia Dome.

The Celebration Bowl, matching champions of the two historically black Division-I conferences, had four scoring plays in the first quarter cover a combined 315 yards.

Cohen’s 73-yard scoring run with 4:17 left in the game was the game-winner, although Alcorn State threatened the Aggies till the end. Only when Lenorris Footman’s fourth-and-goal pass from the 9-yard-line sailed over a receiver with nine seconds left was North Carolina A&T (10-2) safe.

Cohen, the game MVP, added two receptions for 53 yards for the Aggies, champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Alcorn State (9-4), champion of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, was led by Footman. He passed for 144 yards and two scores, rushed for 62 yards, and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass as the Braves rallied from a 24-6 second-quarter deficit to tie the game twice, at 27-all and 34-all.


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