The first five FBS bowls of the season were on Saturday as Fresno State capped off its first 12-win season in program history, Tulane overpowered in-state foe Louisiana and Utah State’s offense lit up the scoreboard.
Here are the plays that decided the outcomes of Saturday’s bowl games.
Las Vegas Bowl: No. 21 Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20
Anthoula Kelly’s 70-yard interception return for a touchdown
Arizona State quickly found itself in a 10-0 hole in the first quarter after Fresno State’s Anthoula Kelly jumped a pass thrown by Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. The best part of Kelly’s return was when he slammed on the brakes at Arizona State’s 15-yard line, sending Sun Devils running back Eno Benjamin flying past him, as he changed direction and waltzed into the end zone.
It was one of two interceptions in the game for Wilkins, who averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt.
Ronnie Rivers’ game-winning 68-yard touchdown run
Arizona State fought back and actually took a 14-10 lead in the second quarter and a 20-17 lead in the third quarter but Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers’ 68-yard scamper to the end zone gave the Bulldogs the lead for good. He took a handoff on an inside draw, broke through the line of scrimmage and had just enough gas on the tank as he was tackled into the end zone. Rivers finished with 24 carries for 212 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Cure Bowl: Tulane defeats Louisiana 41-24
Darius Bradwell, Justin McMillan seal the victory with late rushing touchdowns
Despite Louisiana scoring first, Tulane took a 21-7 lead into the second quarter and the Green Wave quickly extended it to 24-7. Louisiana cut Tulane’s lead to 27-24 with Andre Nunez’s touchdown pass to Jarrod Jackson in the fourth quarter but Tulane’s Darius Bradwell and Justin McMillan both ran for a touchdown in the span of 43 seconds late in the game to seal the victory.
Bradwell took a handoff from four yards out and punched the ball into the end zone to cap off a six-minute, 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive. He finished with 35 carries for 150 rushing yards and two scores as he was a workhorse back for Tulane.
Louisiana then threw three straight incomplete passes before being sacked on fourth down. When Tulane took over on downs, it faced its own fourth down conversion attempt on 4th & 7 at Louisiana’s 16-yard line, where McMillan ran virtually untouched for a 16-yard touchdown than put the Green Wave’s lead out of reach for once and for all.
New Mexico Bowl: Utah State defeats North Texas 52-13
Jordan Love’s 67-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Greene
Utah State averaged more than a point and a half per minute in the opening 22 minutes of the New Mexico Bowl as quarterback Jordan Love threw for 72, 37 and 67-yard touchdowns in the first half. If the game wasn’t already out of reach when his 37-yard strike to Aaren Vaughns gave the Aggies a 28-7 lead, his 67-yarder to Jalen Greene less than a minute later definitely did the trick.
Utah State only scored once in both the third and fourth quarters, and the Aggies could’ve made a run at 70 points if they didn’t take their foot off the gas. Love, one of the most electric players from the Group of Five, finished with 359 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern defeats Eastern Michigan 23-21
Tyler Bass’ game-winning 40-yard field goal
Georgia Southern led or was tied for the first 56 minutes of the Camellia Bowl. Then Mike Glass III found Arthur Jackson III for a five-yard touchdown pass that gave Eastern Michigan its first lead of the game after the PAT, 21-20, with 3:33 left in the game.
Georgia Southern responded with a nine-play, 52-yard scoring drive that was only made possible by Shai Werts’ 29-yard run on 4th & 10, which set up Tyler Bass’ 40-yard field goal as time expired. Georgia Southern won 23-21.
New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State defeats Middle Tennessee
Appalachian State runs away from Middle Tennessee
After a slow start to the game that saw Middle Tennessee score the only points in the first quarter on a field goal, Appalachian State found its groove. The Mountaineers scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 24-6 lead into halftime.
They received the opening kickoff in the second half, which they turned into a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by Corey Sutton’s 17-yard touchdown reception from Zac Thomas. It gave Appalachian State a four-score lead and sealed the victory in its 45-13 victory.