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Bowl roundup: Kansas State beats UCLA 35-17 in Cactus Bowl

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 26, 2017

Kansas State defensive back Duke Shelley (8) breaks up the pass intended for UCLA wide receiver Theo Howard in the first half during an NCAA college football Cactus Bowl game, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, in Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)
Kansas State defensive back Duke Shelley (8) breaks up the pass intended for UCLA wide receiver Theo Howard in the first half during an NCAA college football Cactus Bowl game, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, in Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Alex Delton ran for 158 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, leading Kansas State to a 35-17 Cactus Bowl victory over UCLA in Phoenix on Tuesday night in what could be the final game of coach Bill Snyder’s career.

Delton replaced Skylar Thompson late in the first quarter and scored on runs of 68 yards, 3 yards and 1 yard. Alex Barnes added 117 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats, who rushed for 345 yards.

Kansas State (8-5) struggled in the first half against UCLA’s potent offense, but shut down the Bruins in the second to give Snyder his 210th – and possibly final – win with the Wildcats.

UCLA (6-7) played without top NFL prospect Josh Rosen, who’s recovering from a concussion, and built a 10-point halftime lead without its star quarterback.

The Bruins’ offensive success didn’t carry over into the second half and their defense had a hard time containing Delton, saddling interim coach Jedd Fisch with a loss in his last game before Chip Kelly takes over the program.

Snyder turned around one of the nation’s worst programs after taking over in the Little Apple in 1989. He returned from a three-year retirement in 2008 and led the Wildcats to eight straight bowl appearances.

Snyder has not decided whether he will return for a 27th season or retire again to spend time with his family.

The 78-year-old coach made a quarterback change in the first quarter of the Cactus Bowl, replacing Thompson after an interception. Delton had an immediate impact with his legs, bursting through a hole in the middle, making a tackler miss and racing 68 yards for a touchdown.

Snyder took a gamble in the third quarter, opting to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Delton came through again, bulling his way through a massive pile – with some help from his teammates – for a hard-earned score.

Kansas State recovered Bolu Olorunfunmi’s fumble at the Bruins 24-yard line on the next play from scrimmage, and Delton hit Dominique Heath for an 8-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats the lead.

UCLA turned it over on downs – after a successful fake punt – and Kansas State turned its fourth-down try into a touchdown, with Alex Barnes putting the Wildcats up 28-17 with a 41-yard run.

Kansas State gave UCLA no hope of a comeback with a drive that lasted more than eight minutes and ended with Delton’s final TD run.

Rosen, expected to leave for the NFL after his junior year, was in uniform at Chase Field and warmed up before the game, but Devon Modster trotted out to the huddle for UCLA.

The Bruins still had their big-play game going even without Rosen, building a 17-7 halftime lead on two long TD passes by Modster.

UCLA’s offensive roll ended with halftime. The Bruins had 100 total yards and three first downs in the second half.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Utah 30, West Virginia 14: Zach Moss ran for 150 yards with a career-long 58-yard run for a touchdown, Tyler Huntley scored twice on 2-yard keepers and the Utes earned their fifth consecutive bowl victory, defeating the Mountaineers in Dallas.

On a drizzly and chilly day in Cotton Bowl Stadium, the Utes (7-6) led for good after Moss took a third-and-1 handoff, quickly burst into the open field and went all the way to the end zone to cap their opening drive.

Utah improved to 11-1 in bowl games under Kyle Whittingham, who tied Alabama’s Nick Saban for most bowl wins by an active coach.

West Virginia (7-6) finished the season with its third straight loss. The Mountaineers had only 153 total yards without junior quarterback Will Grier, who broke a finger Nov. 18, and 1,000-yard rusher Justin Crawford, a senior who bypassed the bowl game in advance of the NFL draft.

Quicken Loans Bowl

Duke 36, Northern Illinois 14: Daniel Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Blue Devils defeated the Huskies in Detroit.

Jones finished with 338 yards of offense, while Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown added touchdowns for Duke (7-6).

Marcus Childers threw for 234 yards and a score for Northern Illinois (8-5).

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