Associated Press

Utah State bowls over North Texas in New Mexico

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As if there was ever any doubt, players are more important than coaches in college football. Despite the fact Matt Wells and the majority of his coaching staff bailed early, Utah State rolled over an overmatched and undermanned North Texas team, cruising to a 52-13 win in the New Mexico Bowl presented by Progressive.

The win was a fitting close to one of the best seasons in school history for Utah State. The Aggies (11-2) tied a school record for wins and will likely become the fourth team in school history to finish the season ranked in the AP poll, joining John Ralston‘s 1960-61 teams that went a combined 18-3-1 and former and future head coach Gary Andersen‘s 2012 squad that also went 11-2.

The points started early for the Aggies, finding pay dirt on their third play of the game — a 72-yard strike from Jordan Love to Aaren Vaughns — and ripped off 31 unanswered points over the first and second quarters to break the game open for good.

In addition to the 72-yarder to open the game, Utah State scored touchdowns from 26, 37 and 67 yards in the first half (plus another score on a 10-play, 78-yard drive), as the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense played to its paper throughout the day. Love completed 21-of-43 passes for 361 yards with four touchdowns (plus one rushing) and an interception inside the UNT end zone that robbed him of a sixth score, while Gerold Bright and Darwin Thompson combined to rush 37 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, the Aggies rolled up 556 yards of total offense — 360 of them in the first half.

As the score indicates, the game was a complete nightmare for North Texas. The Mean Green entered the game without leading receiver Rico Bussey (1,017 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns) and played the majority of the day without franchise quarterback Mason Fine. Visibly hobbled by a bum hamstring, Fine threw only 12 passes and left the game in the second quarter when he had to limp his way to recover an errant snap — a theme for UNT during the game — near his own goal line.

Fine was replaced by senior backup Quinn Shanbour, who completed 2-of-8 passes for 24 yards with three interceptions. Shanbour was replaced by freshman Jason Bean, whose only completion in his two passes was to Utah State safety DJ Williams, setting up a field goal on the final play of the half that pushed UNT’s deficit to 38-7.

Fellow freshman Kason Martin played the bulk of the second half, and hit Jalen Guyton for a 75-yard touchdown on his first pass. After that throw, Martin went 6-of-11 for 36 yards.

The loss served as a bitter end to a bittersweet season for North Texas. Though the Mean Green (9-4) increased or matched their win total for the third time in as many seasons under Seth Littrell, North Texas saw three double-digit leads turn into losses and then closed with a second consecutive bowl loss in which the opponent hit half a hundred, following a 50-30 loss to Troy in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl.

Knee injury knocks Boston College QB Anthony Brown out for a second season

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Anthony Brown had his redshirt freshman season cut short due to a knee injury, battled back to start all 12 games in 2018 and BC’s first six contests this fall, until yet another knee injury knocked him out for another season.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio revealed Monday that Brown will miss the remainder of the season with what the school is calling a “lower leg injury.” Brown made a cut avoiding a tackle during BC’s Oct. 5 game against Louisville and immediately clutched his left knee. Boston College lost the game, 41-39, though Brown began the contest 6-of-7 for 193 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re very, very sad for Anthony. He worked hard to get himself where he was. He’s seventh all-time in passing in BC history and heading towards greater things this year. He’s had a great career and he’s prepared and practiced and put so much into it. We’re so proud of him,” Addazio said.

The fourth-year junior from Cliffwood, N.J., finishes his season 81-of-137 for 1,250 yards with nine touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 128 yards and two scores.

“It’s a tough deal, but he’s a tough guy and he’ll bounce back,” Addazio said. “We’re gonna love him and support him and get him back to where he was, but his season has come to an end.”

Brown can return as a fifth-year senior in 2020, with two year-ending knee injuries under his belt, literally and figuratively.

Virginia loses CB Bryce Hall for the season

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Virginia has lost cornerback Bryce Hall for the season, head coach Bronco Mendenhall revealed Monday.

He suffered an ankle injury in Virginia’s loss to Miami on Friday and underwent surgery on Monday, which will spell the end of his college career. The injury came while Hall was blocking on a punt return. Trainers put the injured ankle in an air cast and, while players on both teams gave him good wishes, ESPN decided the injury was gruesome enough that it would not air replays of the play.

“Bryce Hall is in good spirits,” Mendenhall said. “We expect a good recovery, he sustained a left ankle injury and had surgery Monday. We do not expect him back this season. He is an amazing young person, I am thankful for his efforts and to be his coach. On the bus after the game, Bryce was sitting behind me and he said to me, ‘Coach, I’m a human buoy.’ He has been exemplary in everything he has done here.”

Hall is the best player on Virginia’s roster. The Harrisburg, Pa., senior entered the season a Preseason All-American on multiple lists and led the nation in 2018 with 24 passes defended. He also posted two interceptions and 62 tackles, earning him First Team All-ACC honors.

 

South Carolina apologizes for hedge-ripping after Gamecocks upset of No. 10 Georgia

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South Carolina pulled the upset of the season on Saturday, knocking off then-No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in overtime, in Athens. And the ‘Cocks left Sanford Stadium with souvenirs, claiming some of Georgia’s famous hedges for themselves.

Some hedges were even seen in the hands of South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, a Georgia player and former Bulldog.

While some may call it good, old victory fun, Georgia AD Greg McGarity did not have a sense of humor about his shrubbery getting ripped up.

“I don’t like it all,” he told DawgNation. “We sure don’t do that when we win at an opponents’ venue under Kirby’s leadership.”

McGarity also said his South Carolina counterpart, Ray Tanner, apologized for his team’s postgame celebration.

“Ray just apologized for those actions,” he told the site.

UTSA QB Frank Harris lost for the year

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UTSA quarterback Frank Harris will miss the remainder of the season with an upper body injury, head coach Frank Wilson announced Monday. The nature of the injury was not disclosed.

Harris has not played since originally suffering the injury in a 45-3 loss to North Texas on Sept. 21. He was on the sideline in a sling during the Roadrunners’ loss to UAB on Saturday.

A second-year player from the San Antonio era, Harris has missed most or all of the last three seasons while dealing with injuries. He appeared in eight games as a senior at Schertz Clemens High School, then missed all of 2018 with an ACL injury.

In three full games this season (he did not throw a pass against North Texas), Harris completed 66-of-91 passes for 486 yards with three touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 126 yards.

In Harris’ absence, UTSA has turned to LSU transfer Lowell Narcisse, who went 8-of-19 for 94 yards while rushing for 89 yards and a touchdown in a 33-14 loss to UAB.