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Ga. Southern routs La. Tech in New Orleans Bowl; Memphis top Florida Atlantic in Montgomery Bowl

Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts scores his second touchdown.
Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts scores his second touchdown, the team’s third, as Louisiana Tech defensive back Zach Hannibal (2) defends during the first half of the New Orleans Bowl on Wednesday.
(Matthew Hinton / Associated Press)

Shai Werts had three touchdown runs and threw a 65-yard scoring pass to help Georgia Southern beat Louisiana Tech 38-3 in the New Orleans Bowl on Wednesday.

Werts, who missed the Eagles’ last two regular-season games because of a shoulder injury, scored one of his touchdowns on a designed QB run that covered 37 yards. His two other rushing TDs came from a yard out.

Georgia Southern came up with four interceptions — including two near its own goal line in the first quarter. Safety Justin Birdsong intercepted two passes — the first against Louisiana Tech starter Aaron Allen and the second against reserve JD Head in the third quarter.

Georgia Southern (8-5), which came in averaging 262 yards rushing, finished with 322 against Louisiana Tech (5-5).

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Malik Murry broke off a 43-yard run on the game’s opening drive to set up Werts’ first short TD run. Gerald Green added a 55-yard run in the fourth quarter to give him 108 yards and one TD rushing for the game. Werts finished with 71 yards rushing.

The Bulldogs were trying to win a bowl for the seventh straight season, but could not overcome three interceptions thrown by Allen inside the Georgia Southern 30 in the first half.

Allen’s first turnover came when Birdsong stepped in front of a pass at the 5 on a first-down play from the Eagles 17. Tech’s next possession ended when cornerback Derrick Canteen intercepted his sixth pass this season on the Georgia Southern 1 on a Tech first down from the 26.

The second turnover set up Werts’ deep pass to Khaleb Hood to make it 14-0.

Allen threw his third interception in the second quarter, when safety Anthony Wilson picked off a quick slant pass at the 25 on a second-and-10 from the Eagles’ 30.

Tech was on the verge of being shut out in the first half when Smoke Harris returned a punt 60 yards to set up the Bulldogs on the 0 with 31 seconds left. The defense responded by forcing two incomplete passes and sacking Allen to set up Jacob Barnes’ 45-yard field goal.

Montgomery Bowl — Memphis 25, Florida Atlantic 10

Brady White passed for 284 yards and three touchdowns to lead Memphis to a 25-10 victory over Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night in the Montgomery Bowl.

The Tigers (8-3) built a big halftime lead, withstood a third-quarter rally and ended coach Ryan Silverfield’s first season with a second straight win. They also snapped a five-game bowl losing streak.

Meanwhile, Willie Taggart’s debut season with Florida Atlantic ended at 5-4 after the offense sputtered much of the way.

The game was created to replace the canceled Fenway Bowl. Cramton Bowl will also host the Camellia Bowl on Christmas Day. This one ended in a driving rain.

White, who was named game MVP, completed 22 of34 passes with three short touchdowns while also throwing an interception, having a big game even with a quiet night from star receiver Calvin Austin III. Tahj Washington and Javon Ivory both have big games.

Washington caught eight passes for 105 yards while Ivory gained 126 yards on seven catches with a TD. Austin had 28 yards on three catches, with a TD.

Auburn transfer Asa Martin ran for 96 yards on 15 carries for Memphis.

Nick Tronti completed 16 of 32 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Florida Atlantic. Charles James ran for 82 yards.

Memphis capped the first half with a big man touchdown and a sizable lead — that would shrink in the third quarter.

The Tigers took an 18-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the first half on White’s 2-yard pass to moonlighting defensive lineman Joseph Dorceus. It was the 277-pounder’s first touchdown catch and was followed by a two-point conversion.

White completed all 10 of his pass attempts on the first two touchdown drives.

Florida Atlantic cut it to 18-10 in the third quarter with help from a fumbled kickoff return. Tronti passed for 38 yards in the first half and 46 on his initial drive of the second.

White answered right back with a 7-yard touchdown to Austin. Then the Tigers defense stuffed Tronti on a fourth-down run from the 1 to effectively put the game away.


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