Freshman Jake Heaps threw four touchdown passes, connecting with Cody Hoffman on three scores, and finished with 264 yards passing to help BYU beat overmatched Texas-El Paso 52-24 on Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl at Albuquerque.
It capped a big turnaround for the Cougars (7-6), whose 1-4 start included a rare loss to instate rival Utah State. At that point, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told his team it would be a remarkable feat to reach a bowl game and win it.
Mission accomplished for the Cougars, who won five of their last seven regular-season games to become bowl eligible. In the first game of college football’s bowl season, Mendenhall’s team showed just how far BYU came by dominating the Miners (6-7).
Coffman had eight catches for 137 yards, while Joshua Quezada ran for 101 yards and J.J. DiLuigi added 98 yards on the ground to help the Cougars in their final contest before they begin play as an independent in football next season.
Heaps became the first freshman quarterback to start any of BYU’s 29 bowl games. For most of the day, he looked like a polished veteran and showed why he was one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of high school in the Seattle suburbs in 2009.
He completed seven of his first nine attempts, with both of those incompletions on drops.
N. Illinois 40, Fresno St. 17
Quarterback Chandler Harnish ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead the Huskies (11-3) over the Bulldogs (8-5) at Boise.
Northern Illinois earned a school-record 11th victory and ended an emotional two-week stretch that started with a loss to Miami, Ohio in the Mid-American Conference title game, then was compounded 48 hours later by the departure of head coach Jerry Kill for Minnesota.
Harnish finished 17 of 26 for 300 yards passing and another 72 yards rushing.
New Orleans Bowl
Troy 48, Ohio 21
Corey Robinson threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and Troy set a New Orleans Bowl scoring record with a 48-21 victory over Ohio in New Orleans.
Robinson completed 23 passes for 285 yards and four TDs in the first half alone, when Troy (8-5) raced to a 38-7 lead. Tebiarus Gill had a New Orleans Bowl-record three touchdowns, all on receptions in the first half.
Troy finished with 602 offensive yards – also a New Orleans Bowl record.
The Trojans had a 371-39 advantage in offensive yards through the first two quarters, by which time it was apparent Ohio (8-5) was going to drop to 0-5 in its bowl history.
Ohio’s Boo Jackson passed for 209 yards and three TDs.
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