December 27, 2010 in Sports

FIU tops Toledo in Pizza Bowl thriller

Panthers win on final-play field goal

Today’s game

Independence Bowl

Air Force vs.

Georgia Tech

Records: Air Force (8-4); Georgia Tech (6-6)

Time (TV): 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

Where: Shreveport, La.

The Buzz: Expect a fast game, as neither one of these option-based offenses wants to throw the ball. Georgia Tech leads the nation in rush offense at 327.0 yards per game; Air Force is second, at 317.9 yards per game. Neither is that proficient against the run; Tech is 78th nationally in rush defense (169.7 ypg) and Air Force is 100th (195.1 ypg). These teams have combined for 135 pass completions.

Late development: Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson on Sunday said starting outside linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe and backup defensive backs Louis Young and Michael Peterson will be benched for the first half of the game for missing curfew Friday night.

DETROIT – Jack Griffin’s 34-yard field goal on the game’s final play gave Florida International a stunning 34-32 win over Toledo on Sunday night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

The Golden Panthers, playing in their first bowl, faced fourth-and-17 on their final drive before picking up the first down on a hook-and-lateral to T.Y. Hilton. Replays showed he might have stepped out of bounds short of the first down along the sideline, but the play stood after a review, putting the ball at the Toledo 42-yard line.

Moments later, Wes Carroll found Greg Ellingson across the middle to the Toledo 22, helping set up the final kick for the Golden Panthers (7-6).

Toledo (8-5) had taken the lead with 1:14 remaining on a touchdown run by Terrance Owens and a 2-point conversion pass to Eric Page, but that was only part of a delirious finish.

FIU, in only its ninth season of football, trailed 24-7 in the third quarter before Hilton returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers went on to score 24 straight points, taking a 28-24 lead on Hilton’s 10-yard touchdown catch and adding a field goal with 3:18 remaining.

Owens, who had thrown three interceptions in the second half, patiently led Toledo on a 62-yard drive that ended when he kept the ball himself for a 14-yard touchdown run, then found Page on a slant pattern to put the Rockets ahead.

FIU wasn’t done, though. The Panthers took over near midfield after Toledo went with a squib kick to keep the ball away from Hilton. Although a sack knocked FIU back, the Panthers still had one trick play left. After Hilton took the pitch near the middle of the field, he cut toward his team’s sideline, trying to reach the first-down marker.

The initial ruling was that he made it, and the officials didn’t overturn it after the review.

Adonis Thomas rushed for a career-high 193 yards and two touchdowns for the Rockets, including an 87-yard touchdown run as Toledo built a 21-7 halftime lead.

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