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Panthers take Insight Bowl; B.C. wins in Motor City

Pitt downs Oregon State

Posted: Friday, December 27, 2002

PHOENIX -- Oregon State's Steven Jackson got the pregame attention. Pittsburgh's Brandon Miree got the MVP award -- and the victory.

Miree rushed for 113 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run, as the 24th-ranked Panthers beat the Beavers 38-13 Thursday night in the Insight Bowl.

Jackson, the Pac-10's leading rusher and No. 4 nationally with 1,656 yards, managed a season-low 34 yards in 19 carries. Overall, Oregon State gained just 8 yards on the ground.

''Him being such a great running back and with the great line they had, we just came out and met the challenge,'' said Pitt defensive end Claude Harriott, who had two sacks and four tackles for loss.

The game matched the country's No. 10 defense (Oregon State) and No. 11 (Pittsburgh). But the night belonged to the Panthers.

Jackson had gained fewer than 100 yards in just three games all season, but broke loose only once against Pittsburgh, a 60-yard gain that was called back by a holding penalty. Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson admitted he was surprised at how ineffective the running game was.

''They played very physical against us,'' Erickson said. ''It did surprise me, because I thought we could run the football against most people, and we couldn't tonight.''

Pitt eventually just overpowered the Beavers.

''We knew they were a tough defense, No. 10 in the nation coming in,'' Miree said. ''But we felt we were a physical football team. We've been physical with all the teams that we played this year.''

Shawn Robinson became the first Pitt player to return a punt for a touchdown in the school's 22 bowl appearances as the Panthers won nine games in a season for the first time in 20 years.

The victory made the Big East 2-0 on the day. Boston College routed Toledo 51-25 in the Motor City Bowl.

''I think people cannot ever refer to it as the Big Easy anymore,'' Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said.

The Panthers (9-4) broke a 10-10 tie with a pair of TDs in the third quarter. Tez Morris' interception set up the go-ahead touchdown on Rod Rutherford's 1-yard run, then Robinson broke a pair of tackles en route to his 66-yard punt return to make it 24-10 with 3:26 to go in the third quarter.

''That was the turning point,'' Harris said, ''that and the field goal at the end of the half.''

Pittsburgh added two more touchdowns in the fourth.

Derek Anderson completed 21 of 44 passes for 318 yards for Oregon State (8-5). James Newson caught 10 for 165 yards for the Beavers, including a remarkable 65-yard touchdown play.

Rutherford was 13-for-26 for 183 yards. Larry Fitzgerald made a diving grab of Rutherford's 40-yard pass for the game's first touchdown.

Boston College 51, Toledo 25

DETROIT -- Boston College played like a team on a mission.

Brian St. Pierre led the Eagles to touchdowns on their first six possessions and Boston College beat Toledo 51-25 in the Motor City Bowl on Thursday night.

''I think we came out wanting to earn respect,'' coach Tom O'Brien said. ''We wanted to be here, and we wanted to prove how good we were.''

St. Pierre, the game's most valuable player, completed 25 of 35 passes for a career-high 342 yards and three touchdowns as Boston College capped one of the most successful four-year runs in school history.

The Eagles' senior class, which includes St. Pierre, won its 32nd game, tying the 1981-84 group for the most wins in a four-year span in the past 60 years.

Boston College became the ninth team in school history to win at least nine games and the first since 1993.

Boston College appeared in a bowl game for a fourth consecutive season. The Eagles, who are 32-17 over that span, finished the season with four straight wins.

''After everything that's happened in the past four years, this is a storybook ending,'' St. Pierre said. ''When I first got here, I would have never believed that we could go to four straight bowls and win the last three.''

Toledo (9-5) wasn't able to take advantage of a partisan crowd at Detroit's new Ford Field, which is located about an hour north of the Rockets' campus.

The bowl's previous five games were played at the Silverdome in suburban Pontiac.

Boston College faced the challenge of the Rockets' unpredictable spread offense, but it was the Eagles who dominated with a more traditional approach.

''They won the battles in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and that's what won them the game,'' Toledo coach Tom Amstutz said. ''They were very physical, and we weren't able to match that.''

The Eagles set a Motor City Bowl record for most points. The previous record was set in Marshall's 48-29 win over Louisville in 1998. It was the most points the Eagles scored since a 55-3 win over Connecticut on Oct. 7, 2000.

Toledo scored the lone touchdown of the second half when Brian Jones connected with Manny Johnson on a 30-yard score with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter to make it 48-25.

Jones, who set several single-season Toledo passing records this year, completed 27 of 41 passes for 331 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Carl Ford caught 10 passes for 112 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds to go in the second quarter.

''I don't feel like they dominated us, but they got a quick lead and took us out of our game plan,'' Jones said. ''It's hard to win a game when you can't play the type of offense you want.''

Down 28-10 with less than six minutes to go in the first half, Toledo gambled, going for it on a fourth-and-1 from its own 40, but Jones' pass fell incomplete.

Boston College took possession, and on the next play, Grant Adams caught St. Pierre's pass across the middle, eluded a defender and raced into the end zone for a 35-10 lead.

A 1-yard TD run by Brandon Brokaw with 1:31 to go in the half made it 42-10.

Boston College set a school bowl record for points in a half, surpassing the 31 points the Eagles scored in the first half of the 1985 Cotton Bowl, a 45-28 win over Houston. They also set a Motor City Bowl record for points in a half.

Toledo left tackle Nick Kaczur was ejected near the end of the first half for twice punching Boston College defensive end Phil Mettling during a scrum after a 2-point conversion by the Rockets made it 42-18.

As a result, the teams were not allowed to go into the tunnel together at halftime. Officials halted the Rockets near the end zone as Boston College's players made their way into the locker room.

A second Toledo player, defensive back Brock Dodrill, was ejected early in the third quarter when he hit St. Pierre out of bounds.

''That's not something we like in college football, but I thought the Big 12 officiating crew did a great job,'' O'Brien said. ''They told us at halftime that they were going to call it close and throw people out if they had to.''

Toledo, coming off a 49-45 loss to Marshall in the MAC championship game, failed to defend its Motor City Bowl title from a season ago. MAC teams had won the previous four Motor City Bowl games.

Toledo cut the Eagles' advantage to 21-10 when Trinity Dawson scored on a 2-yard run with 10:47 remaining in the first half.

Boston College made it 21-3 a minute into the second period when St. Pierre delivered a third-and-8 pass to Joel Hazard, who made a defender miss along the sideline, cut up field and dove into the end zone for a 40-yard score.

Boston College ran almost exclusively on its first scoring drive, which covered 76 yards over 11 plays, culminating in Derrick Knight's 2-yard run.

On their second possession, the Eagles passed on seven of nine plays and took a 14-0 lead on St. Pierre's 17-yard pass to Adams.



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