Monday, April 23, 2018
Sports

Murray makes history for Dawgs

ORLANDO — Aaron Murray threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns, both school bowl records, to lead No. 6 Georgia past No. 23 Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.

Murray, a graduate of Plant High, shook off two first-half interceptions, one returned for a score, to help the Bulldogs (12-2) reach 12 wins for the third time and end a two-game bowl skid.

"I don't know what it's like to head into an offseason with a win," the junior said. "It's great for the seniors, who have meant so much to this team. They've done a great job of leading this team the whole season."

Nebraska (10-4), which entered No. 1 in Division I-A in pass defense at 148.2 yards per game, lost its third straight bowl. This one, in which it allowed Georgia to convert 12 of 17 third downs, came after it lost 70-31 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

"I thought the plan was good," coach Bo Pelini said of the defensive scheme. "Third down hurt us, obviously. When we're in position, it was man on man down the field. We needed to make some of those plays, and we didn't."

Murray hit Keith Marshall for a 24-yard touchdown that put Georgia up 38-31 eight seconds into the fourth. After Nebraska punted, Chris Conley turned a short pass into an 87-yard score.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday was about finding closure after just missing out on a berth in the BCS title game.

"We wanted to … prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country," said Richt, whose team lost the SEC title game 32-28 when it reached the Alabama 5 before time ran out. "I think our guys did a good job of sucking it up when they were tired. But when you make a big play here and there, it gives you a little more energy as well."

Gator Bowl: Quentin Williams returned an interception 29 yards for a score on the game's third play and Nick Vanhoose set up a late insurance touchdown with a 39-yard interception return to help No. 21 Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in Jacksonville.

The Wildcats (10-3) had lost nine consecutive bowls, tying an NCAA record, dating to the January 1949 Rose.

"This one goes to all the Wildcats that have been here before us," coach and alum Pat Fitzgerald said. "They've paved the way for us. The sky is the limit for where our program can go."

Tyler Russell threw four interceptions, including two near the end zone, for Mississippi State.

"Guys are going to have off days," said Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, whose team finished 8-5 after a 7-0 start. "Here's the great thing: He had an off day, and there were still some opportunities there for us in the fourth quarter to go win the game."

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Clint Chelf threw three touchdowns to lead Oklahoma State past Purdue 58-14. The 58 points were the most in a postseason game at the Cotton Bowl.

The Cowboys (8-5) lost their regular-season finale in overtime to Oklahoma. That caused them to slide down the bowl list and led analysts to question if they would be motivated to play.

"Some of the seniors would like to have been in a better bowl," said Chelf, 17-of-22 for 197 yards. "I think everybody wanted to go out there and … show them we could win a game like this."

Plant grad Robert Marve didn't reach 100 passing yards for Purdue (6-7) until it was 45-0. He was 21-of-34 for 212 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Late Monday

ATLANTA — Clemson, trailing 24-13 in the third, came back to beat LSU 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Chandler Catanzaro's 37-yard field goal as time expired.

LSU (10-3) led 24-22 and took over with 2:43 left. It threw the ball three times, completing one pass and taking only 1:04 off the clock.

"They made it tough for us by stacking eight or nine guys in the box," said LSU's Jeremy Hill, who ran for 124 yards and two scores but had no carries in the fourth.

Clemson (11-2) took over at its 20. The drive included Tajh Boyd's 26-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins on fourth and 16.

"These guys, they fought every play. They fought for every blade of grass,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "This is a national championship team. I've been telling them they were at the doorway of greatness."

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