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Syracuse trounces BC to force four-way tie for Big East title

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  • Syracuse trounces BC to force four-way tie for Big East title

    Nov. 27, 2004 wire reports
    BOSTON -- If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

    Syracuse wasn't able to follow Boston College to the Atlantic Coast Conference or stop the Eagles from leaving the Big East. The one thing the Orange could do was deprive BC of a spot in the Bowl Championship Series and a farewell Big East title.

    "We heard it all week," said defensive back turned running back Diamond Ferri, who scored two touchdowns on offense and one on defense to help Syracuse beat No. 17 Boston College 43-17 on Saturday. "If they want to leave the conference, we wanted to send them out with a loss."

    BC needed a victory for its first outright championship in a league that has been depleted by the defections of Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC. The Eagles will join them next year but Syracuse, which tried to leave before being bypassed, made sure that they left on a sour note.

    Damien Rhodes ran for a 69-yard touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage and 107 yards in all before leaving with a leg injury. With star tailback Walter Reyes already injured, the Orange (6-5, 4-2) turned to Ferri, a starting safety and former high school running back from nearby Everett, Mass.

    "That's probably one of the biggest performances I've ever seen in my entire life, in any sport, to be able to come in and play big-time college football like that," Rhodes said of his understudy.

    The Orange, who woke up Saturday morning ineligible for a bowl, moved into a four-way tie with BC (8-3, 4-2), Pittsburgh and West Virginia for first place in the conference. Syracuse has a chance at a BCS game if Pittsburgh loses to South Florida next week; if Pitt wins it would likely earn a Fiesta Bowl matchup with Utah.


    "It gives us a share of the Big East championship. We've had a lot of special things that have happened here, but it's pretty special," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "I'm just going to enjoy that we're bowl-eligible."

    BC will go to its sixth consecutive bowl game, but it will be a second- or third-tier event like the Insight or Gator. Athletic director Gene DeFilippo said six or more different bowl games could be in play.

    But the Fiesta and Sugar, BC's goals at the start of the day, are out.

    "I suspect at 8-3 we will go somewhere, but who knows where we'll end up," coach Tom O'Brien said. "We need another football game, especially for the seniors. ... For them, we need to play another football game."

    Ferri ran for 141 yards two touchdowns and scored again on a 44-yard interception that made it 36-17 and sealed the victory in the fourth quarter. Perry Patterson was 9-for-16 for 88 yards, adding 48 yards rushing and a touchdown in what could be Pasqualoni's last game at Syracuse.

    Pasqualoni lost a staunch ally when athletic director Jake Crouthamel announced that he will retire; Crouthamel hired Pasqualoni to replace Dick McPherson in 1991 and defended his coach through losing seasons in 2002 and '03.

    Pasqualoni, who has a year remaining on his contract, followed 11 consecutive winning seasons by going 4-8 in two years ago and 6-6 last year.

    "He's one of the greatest coaches in college football, in my opinion. He's grown me up as a man," center Matt Tarullo said. "He deserves to have this job and go to a bowl."

    BC was playing without quarterback Paul Peterson, who broke his right hand in last week's victory over Temple. Freshman Matt Ryan was 24-for-51 for 200 yards with three interceptions and several early dropped passes. BC mustered little offense and fell behind 24-3 before scoring on a blocked punt in the final minute of the first half.

    BC was going nowhere when O'Brien rushed 11 men on a Syracuse punt with 31 seconds left in the half. Brian Toal blocked the kick and DeJuan Tribble picked up the bouncing ball and ran it 29 yards for the touchdown to make it 24-10.

    But the Eagles couldn't build on their good fortune.

    Despite a 39-yard kickoff return that put BC at its 44 to start the second half, the Eagles got only as far midfield and punted the ball back. Collin Barber kicked a 42-yard field goal to make it 27-10 and, after Anthony Smith's interception gave Syracuse the ball at the BC 23, Barber kicked from 35 yards to make it a 20-point game.

    Ryan hit Joel Hazard from 11 yards out to make it 30-17, but Syracuse scored on Ferri's interception return and Patterson's TD run after BC fumbled the kickoff.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Connecticut dominates Toledo in Motor City Bowl
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 27, 2004 wire reports
    DETROIT -- Dan Orlovsky wanted to linger as long as possible and savor the latest milestone for Connecticut football.

    By the time he trotted to the sidelines in the closing minutes to a standing ovation, he had thrown for 239 yards and two touchdowns to lead UConn to a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. It was the Huskies' first bowl appearance since becoming a full Division I-A team three years ago.

    "I didn't want to come off the field," Orlovsky said. "Me being stubborn, I just wanted to play. But it was great feeling to walk off the field and have the fans cheer like that."

    Thousands of UConn fans were part of the record Motor City Bowl crowd of 52,552. For years they have cheered on the Huskies' powerhouse men's and women's basketball teams.

    Now Connecticut can play football, too.

    "Before this year I heard people say UConn has arrived. UConn has arrived now, literally," said Orlovsky, who was named the bowl MVP.

    The Huskies (8-4) dominated in every phase of the game, holding the Rockets to a season-low 10 points.


    The UConn defense held the Rockets (9-4) to just 78 yards on the ground. Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who broke his throwing hand in the Mid-American Conference championship on Dec. 2, struggled in the first half. He scored the Rockets only TD on a one-yard run. Backup quarterback Marques Council played the second half, throwing for 160 yards with two interceptions.

    "It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be and it was better to get a healthy guy out there who could do the job," Gradkowski said.

    The Huskies' special teams also shone in their bowl debut. Matt Nuzie kicked a career-best four field goals and added three extra points. Larry Taylor ran back a punt 68-yards for a score in the first quarter, his first of the year. Taylor's runback with 2:31 left in the first quarter quickly put UConn up 17-0 and the Rockets never recovered.

    The Rockets came into the game averaging 35.2 points but, behind their injured quarterback, could muster little in the way of offense.

    "It doesn't happen very often and it's a rare thing," Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said. "I give UConn a lot of credit. We just didn't have all our guys going."

    The Huskies got their biggest lift with the return of defensive end Tyler King. The 6-foot-5 senior made his first start since breaking his leg on Sept. 30 in a win over Pittsburgh.

    King and his teammates were ready for every trick play the Rockets tried to run. King recovered a fumble on Toledo's fake punt in the first half. Four plays later Orlovsky hit Jason Williams for a 32-yard touchdown. Orlovsky also hit Brian Sparks...
    -12-28-2004, 09:45 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Boston College enjoys happy returns against West Virginia
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 13, 2004 wire reports
    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Defense has been Boston College's strength this season. When that didn't work on Saturday, a superb performance on special teams kept the Eagles in the hunt for their first Big East championship.

    Paul Peterson threw two first-half touchdown passes and No. 21 Boston College returned two punts for scores to beat No. 13 West Virginia 36-17 Saturday.

    Boston College (7-2, 3-1 Big East) can earn a share of the conference title by beating Temple and Syracuse in its final season before moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.

    "It is a huge leap for our program and school," said Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, whose team hadn't won in Morgantown since 1990.

    The Mountaineers (8-2, 4-1) squandered a chance to clinch their first BCS bid and a tie for a second straight conference title. West Virginia lost in November for the first time under fourth-year coach Rich Rodriguez. It also had 10-game conference and home winning streaks broken.

    "We had destiny in our hands today. That's what is disappointing," Rodriguez said. "We didn't play like a good team. It will probably make us sick to watch the film."

    It was supposed to be a battle between West Virginia's potent rushing attack and the Big East's top defense. Though West Virginia outgained Boston College 452-243, the contest was decided on special teams.


    DeJuan Tribble returned a first-quarter punt 41 yards for a score and Will Blackmon went 71 yards for a TD with a punt return in the fourth quarter. They were the first punt returns for scores by the Eagles in two years.

    "That was the defining factor," O'Brien said. "The two punt returns were huge. We broke some tackles and after that they were not going to catch us."

    Eagles freshman Ryan Ohliger kicked field goals of 44, 47 and 36 yards.

    Boston College quieted a capacity crowd with several long kickoff returns and pinned West Virginia deep in its own territory on many punts and kickoffs.

    The Mountaineers fumbled away the second-half kickoff, leading to an Ohliger field goal for a 27-7 lead.

    "Special teams were embarrassing," Rodriguez said. "Every time they started with the ball on offense, they had the ball past midfield. Every time we started the ball on offense, it seemed like we had to go 90 (yards)."

    West Virginia worked too methodically to mount a comeback. An 18-play drive ended with Rasheed Marshall's 6-yard scoring pass to Chris Henry at the end of the third quarter.

    That gave Henry a school-record 12 TD catches this season, breaking the mark of 11 set by Reggie Rembert in 1989.

    Henry had catches of 41 and 20...
    -11-13-2004, 05:16 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Gators give Zook big win over FSU in final game
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 20, 2004 wire reports
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This one was for The Zooker.

    Chris Leak threw a touchdown, Ciatrick Fason ran for a score, and Florida upset No. 10 Florida State 20-13 to win in Tallahassee for the first time since 1986.

    It also gave fired coach Ron Zook a victory in his final regular-season game.

    Condemned since the day he replaced Steve Spurrier in 2002, Zook finally did something the ol' ball coach didn't in his 12 glorious seasons with the Gators. He won at Florida State.

    The players carried Zook off the field, and the coach flashed a big smile that had been missing for much of his three seasons.

    "I congratulated them for a great job, a great effort," Zook said he told his players after the game. "I thanked them for just hanging in there and not quitting."

    The Gators (7-4) ended any legitimate chance the Seminoles had of earning a third straight Bowl Championship Series berth. Florida State (8-3) still could finish tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference title but probably would lose all tiebreaker scenarios because of its BCS ranking, which is expected to drop Monday.


    Florida also spoiled a special night for longtime Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden. Before the game, the school named its playing surface "Bobby Bowden Field" and unveiled a 20-by-30 foot stained glass window at the stadium featuring Bowden's likeness.

    Spurrier --- 0-5-1 in six trips to Tallahassee -- must have loved the upset, too.

    The Gators threw with relative ease against Florida State's vaunted defense. Leak finished 19-for-39 for 231 yards with an interception.

    "He's very mature for a sophomore," Bowden said. "He plays like a senior. He did a great job."

    Fason's 8-yard touchdown run with 4:59 remaining put the Gators ahead for good.

    "I saw a lot of guys leaving everything on the field and we won it for Coach," Fason said. "I think this will help him in looking for a job."

    Zook's farewell fairy tale almost turned into a redemption story for Florida State, though.

    Embattled quarterback Chris Rix came off the bench and threw a touchdown pass with 8:30 to play that cut the lead to 13-10.

    He rolled right and heaved a pass into the end zone that Chauncey Stovall caught over Vernell Brown. The pass was reminiscent of Rix's 52-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam with 55 seconds remaining last season that gave the Seminoles a 38-34 win.

    Rix also drove the Seminoles to the 18-yard line in the waning seconds, but his last pass was intercepted by Jarvis Harris with 8 seconds to play. Rix finished 9-of-16 for 150 yards.

    "He brought us back and nearly pulled it...
    -11-21-2004, 05:03 PM
  • DJRamFan
    No. 19 Pittsburgh likely headed to Fiesta after rout in finale
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 4, 2004 wire reports
    TAMPA, Fla. -- Tyler Palko threw for a career-high 411 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters Saturday, helping No. 19 Pittsburgh rout South Florida 43-14 and virtually assure the Panthers the Big East spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

    Greg Lee scored on receptions of 18, 6 and 7 yards for Pitt (8-3), while Malcolm Postell returned one of his two interceptions 15 yards for a TD that gave his team a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.


    Palko completed 19 of 28 passes and finished his afternoon by throwing for two scores in the last 1:27 of the third quarter.

    Marcus Furman's 11-yard reception finished an eight-play, 93-yard drive, and Palko and 270-pound tight end Erik Gill teamed on an 80-yard TD play on the final play of the period.

    The victory was the sixth in seven games for Pitt, which hardly resembled a BCS team in stumbling to 2-2 start that included an overtime victory over Division I-AA Furman and a 12-point loss at Connecticut.

    The strong finish, however, gave the Panthers a share of the Big East title with Syracuse, Boston College and West Virginia and sets up a likely date against unbeaten Utah (11-0) in the Fiesta Bowl.

    The Panthers also avenged an embarrassing loss to South Florida (4-7), which won the only other meeting between the schools 35-26 in just their second game as a Division I-A program three years ago.

    Some Pitt players said that game provided extra motivation this time.

    South Florida, which finished its final season as a member of Conference USA with a three-game losing streak, will move to the Big East next year and found out how difficult that transition could be.

    Although the Bulls had plenty of success moving the ball, Pat Julmiste was intercepted twice and Pitt also forced two fumbles to stop scoring threats. The Panthers also stopped another march inside their 20 on downs.

    Julmiste scored South Florida's first touchdown on a trick play, catching a 16-yard TD pass from Andre Hall after the 1,300-yard rusher took a pitchout and faked a handoff to receiver S.J. Green on an end-around.

    Clenton Crossley also scored on a 1-yard run for the Bulls.

    Lee finished with eight receptions for 153 yards, giving him 61 catches for 1,204 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The 300-yard performance by Palko was the sophomore's fifth of the year.

    The last time Pitt won at least eight games three consecutive seasons was 1981-83. The Panthers are headed to a bowl for the fifth straight year, but haven't played on New Year's Day or later since concluding the 1983 season in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The...
    -12-04-2004, 01:59 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Northern Illinois beats Troy for first bowl win in 21 years
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 31, 2004 wire reports
    SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Rain couldn't stop them. Mud only slowed them. Even the gloom of night was no obstacle to a landmark victory for coach Joe Novak and his Northern Illinois players.

    Josh Haldi passed for 146 yards and rushed for two touchdowns to lead Northern Illinois through mud and rain to its first bowl victory in 21 years, 34-21 over Troy on Thursday night in the Silicon Valley Football Classic.

    With backup tailback A.J. Harris rushing for 120 yards and a score, Northern Illinois (9-3) overcame a steady downpour, lighting problems and a delayed kickoff by scoring 34 straight points in this unlikely postseason matchup of schools with one previous bowl appearance between them.

    The victory is a high point in Novak's quest to make Northern Illinois into a mid-major powerhouse. They didn't get a bowl invitation last year despite going 10-2 - but for the first time since winning the 1983 California Bowl, the Huskies have a trophy to take back to DeKalb.

    "We've taken another big step with our program," Novak said. "We've still got things we want to do, but this is a great step for everyone here. We're sending out a great group of seniors with a victory in a bowl game, which is exactly what we wanted to do."

    Garrett Wolfe, the NCAA's scoring co-leader, rushed for his 21st touchdown of the season for Northern Illinois before leaving with a hip injury.

    But behind Harris and Haldi, the Huskies methodically erased a quick start by the Trojans (7-5), who scored two touchdowns in the first nine minutes of Troy's first bowl game in just its fourth season in Division I-A. Troy allowed a season-high 213 yards rushing.


    "A loss puts a damper on me, but it's not the end of the world," Troy coach Larry Blakeney said. "We can't leave the defense out there against a big offensive line and a great back."

    DeWhitt Betterson rushed for 150 yards for the Trojans, and D.T. McDowell threw a touchdown pass and rushed for two more scores. But Troy got stuck in the mud at Spartan Stadium, unable to move the ball effectively or stop the Huskies' rushing attack.

    "Sometimes you start fast, and then run into bumps in the road," Betterson said. "We were having success, but the condition of the field took its toll on us."

    Haldi and the Huskies overcame more than Troy's vaunted defense, which was among the national leaders in several statistical categories.

    A day of intermittent rain left the Spartan Stadium field slick and soaked, and though more than 21,000 tickets were distributed, no more than 5,000 fans braved the miserable conditions.

    In addition, an electrical transformer outside the stadium malfunctioned shortly before...
    -12-31-2004, 03:04 PM