Zappe gets records, WKU rolls past Appalachian State 59-38 in Boca Bowl

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Bailey Zappe capped his record-setting season by passing for 422 yards and six touchdowns, and Western Kentucky handed Appalachian State its first-ever bowl loss by beating the Mountaineers 59-38 in the Boca Raton Bowl on Saturday.

Zappe finished the season with 5,977 yards and 62 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers (9-5). He topped the previous marks of 5,833 yards set by Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons in 2003 and 60 touchdowns set by LSU’s Joe Burrow in the Tigers’ run to the national championship in the 2019 season.

Jerreth Sterns caught 13 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns for Western Kentucky, finishing his season with 150 catches for 1,902 yards. Mitchell Tinsley had two TD catches for the Hilltoppers and Noah Whittington needed only seven carries to rush for 150 yards – 86 of those on a third-quarter scoring run.

Chase Brice passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns for Appalachian State (10-4) before leaving in the fourth quarter with a right leg injury. It was the first loss in seven all-time bowl games for the Mountaineers.

It was 24-24 late in the opening half, when Zappe – who completed 33 of 47 passes – put his name in the record book and put the Hilltoppers ahead for good.

He broke the yardage mark on a 43-yard pass to Sterns – who finished the season with the fifth-most receiving yards in FBS history – late in the half, then tied the touchdown mark on the same drive when he connected with Sterns for a 10-yard score. That started what became a 35-7 run by the Hilltoppers.

Zappe threw his record-setting touchdown pass on a 5-yard slant to Tinsley on the Hilltoppers’ second drive of the third quarter, pushing WKU’s lead to three touchdowns.

THE TAKEAWAY

The 97 combined points were a record for the Boca Raton Bowl, topping the 82 that Western Kentucky and Memphis combined for in the Hilltoppers’ 51-31 win in 2016. The 59 points by Western Kentucky were also a record, surpassing the previous mark of 52 set by Marshall in 2014 and matched by Florida Atlantic – on its home field – in 2019.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Appalachian State was receiving votes in the most recent AP Top 25 poll, though whatever slim chance the Mountaineers had of making the season-ending poll next month is now nonexistent.

UP NEXT

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers are scheduled to open their 2022 schedule on Sept. 3 at North Carolina.

Western Kentucky: The 2022 season is set to begin on Aug. 27 at home against Austin Peay.

No. 3 TCU loses 31-28 in OT to K-State in Big 12 title game

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Ty Zentner kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime as 13th-ranked Kansas State beat No. 3 TCU 31-28 in the Big 12 championship game Saturday, leaving the Horned Frogs to wait another day to find out if they had already done enough to get into the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Wildcats set up the winning field goal after TCU (12-1) had the opening possession of overtime and Kendre Miller was stopped short on consecutive plays from inside the 1.

Deuce Vaughn ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and Will Howard threw two TDs for the Wildcats (10-3, No. 10 CFP), who six weeks earlier had jumped out to a 28-10 lead early in the second quarter before TCU scored the game’s last 28 points.

That was one of five games the Horned Frogs (12-1, No. 3 CFP) won when trailing after halftime. But they couldn’t do it again with the chance to guarantee being the first Big 12 team other than Oklahoma to make the playoff.

TCU, the first Big 12 team to complete a regular season undefeated since Texas in 2009, could still get into the playoff. While their case was helped when fourth-ranked Southern California (11-2) lost 47-24 to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night, the Frogs now have to wait until the final CFP rankings come out Sunday.

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said before the game that TCU, with first-year coach Sonny Dykes, already deserved to be in the playoff.

“You look at their strength of schedule. You think about how they’ve performed all year long,” Yormark said. “I think regardless, they should be in, for sure.”

No. 4 USC falls to Utah in Pac-12 Championship, damaging playoff hopes

Utah vs. USC
USA Today
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LAS VEGAS — No. 12 Utah pounded a limping, bloodied Caleb Williams and roared past No. 4 Southern California 47-24 on Friday night to win the Pac-12 Championship and put USC’s College Football Playoff hopes in doubt.

The loss by the Trojans (11-2) could open the way for Ohio State (11-1) to take their spot in the playoffs. USC is fourth in the CFP rankings, the Buckeyes are one step behind.

Ohio State had to be Utah’s biggest fan. The Buckeyes move up in playoff consideration, with 12-0 Michigan at No. 2 with the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, that would give the Big Ten conference two playoff teams for the first time. It also would extend the Pac-12′s playoff drought — Washington in 2017 is the last team from that conference to make the playoffs.

Utah (10-3) is heading to the Rose Bowl, but the Utes already were going there regardless of the outcome of the title game. They are responsible for USC’s only losses, having edged the Trojans 43-42 on Oct. 15 in Salt Lake City.

The Utes rolled up 533 yards of offense in the rematch, and Cam Rising passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

Williams threw for 363 yards and three TDs. He entered the game as the leading Heisman Trophy candidate, but wasn’t the same after getting injured in the first quarter.

The Trojans looked as if they were going to run away with the game, taking a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter behind some stellar play by Williams.

He appeared to hurt his left knee or leg in the first quarter on a 59-yard run in which he took a big hit at the end, and he suffered a bad cut on the pinky finger of his throwing hand. He spent most of the game limping, and wasn’t the same after a sterling first quarter in which the Trojans outgained Utah in total yards 194-70, and Williams had both touchdown passes.

After USC failed to pick up a fourth-and-8 from Utah’s 37-yard line, the Utes scored two touchdowns in the final 3:55 of the first half, and suddenly the game was tied at 17. Instead of a rout, the game was beginning to look like the shootout the Utes won in October.

The game took on that tone at times in the second half, but USC had no answer for how to slow down Utah, which outscored the Trojans 44-7 in overcoming that two-touchdown deficit.

ATTENDANCE RECORD

A announced sellout crowd of 61,195 made this the largest for a neutral-site Pac-12 Championship. It beat the previous record of 58,476 fans. who watched Southern California-Stanford in Santa Clara, California, in 2015.