- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2008

From combined dispatches


W. VIRGINIA 31, N. CAROLINA 30: Pat White had one more dazzling comeback in him before finishing his record-breaking college career.

White threw for 332 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Alric Arnett midway through the fourth quarter, to send the Mountaineers (9-4) to a win against the Tar Heels (8-5) in Charlotte, N.C.

The senior quarterback was voted MVP of a bowl for the third straight year and finished 4-0 in postseason games, helping West Virginia overcome Hakeem Nicks‘ big day for North Carolina to end a disappointing season on a positive note.

Nicks caught eight passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns for the Tar Heels, but T.J. Yates was intercepted by Pat Lazear with less than two minutes left to end Butch Davis’ hopes of a bowl win in his second year at North Carolina. Instead, it was a sweet ending to a tumultuous season for first-year West Virginia coach Bill Stewart.

Entering the season as prohibitive favorites to win the Big East, the Mountaineers started 1-2. They recovered to win five straight but went 2-2 in their final four games to end their BCS bowl hopes.

White, however, made sure they went out a winner - again. He completed 26 of 32 passes and threw one interception. The NCAA’s all-time leading rushing quarterback added 55 yards on the ground to finish with 4,480.

Although there are questions about whether White can play quarterback in the NFL, he was dominant when he needed to be Saturday. After J.T. Thomas recovered Shaun Draughn’s fumble at the West Virginia 30, White threw a 41-yard pass over the middle to Jock Sanders, picked up 9 yards on a running play and then rifled a pass between two defenders to Arnett for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:14 left.

Yates couldn’t find the dynamic Nicks on the Tar Heels’ final drive, eventually throwing his first interception of the game. The comeback spoiled a remarkable day by Nicks that could interest NFL scouts as the junior contemplates whether to turn pro after this season.


FLORIDA ST. 42, WISCONSIN 13: Derek Nicholson and Dekoda Watson returned fumbles for touchdowns, Christian Ponder threw two TD passes and the Seminoles (9-4) routed the Badgers (7-6) in Orlando, Fla.

Florida State finished with more than eight wins for the first time since 2004.

Nicholson had two fumble recoveries, including one he returned 75 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. Punter Graham Gano averaged 48.2 yards on five and had three downed inside the Wisconsin 5 to earn game MVP.

P.J. Hill ran for 140 yards on 15 carries for the Badgers (7-6), but quarterback Dustin Sherer completed only four of nine for 55 yards through the first three quarters. His fumble early in the fourth quarter was returned 51 yards for a score by Watson to put Florida State up 35-6.

It was an ugly finish to a disappointing season for Wisconsin, which was ranked as high as No. 8 early and was expected to contend in the Big Ten.


CALIFORNIA 24, MIAMI 17: Zack Follett forced a fumble by Jacory Harris deep in Miami territory with 3:28 left, and Anthony Miller scored the go-ahead touchdown on his first career catch moments later in the Golden Bears’ victory in San Francisco.

Jahvid Best rushed for a bowl-record 186 yards and two touchdowns for the Golden Bears (9-4), who still needed a big defensive play and an unlikely hero to hold off the Hurricanes (7-6) in front of a Bay Area crowd teeming with screaming Cal fans.

Harris played well in the freshman’s second career start, subbing for the suspended Robert Marve. Harris had won 31 straight starts dating to his high school career in South Florida, but his fumble cost the Hurricanes in their first bowl game under coach Randy Shannon.

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