DALLAS — Kenneth Dixon scored one of his two touchdowns on an 80-yard reception and Xavier Woods scored on a 69-yard interception return to help Louisiana Tech beat Illinois 35-18 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Friday.
The Bulldogs (9-5) also got touchdown runs of 16 yards from Jarred Craft and 28 yards from Blake Martin on a dark, overcast day at the Cotton Bowl stadium.
Illinois (6-7) struggled early with penalties and missed field goals, but got within three points on David Reisner's 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarters. But Dixon scored his second TD from one yard out with six minutes left to make it 28-18 and the Illini couldn't answer.
Illinois appeared to have gotten a break when LaKeith Walls sacked Cody Sokol, causing him to fumble. But Jihad Ward returned it 19 yards and fumbled, letting Sokol recover. That drive was capped by Dixon's TD.
Dixon became Louisiana Tech's career leader in yards rushing, finishing with 630 carries for a total of 3,410 yards in three seasons.
He is also the only FBS player with both a run and a reception of at least 80 yards this season.
Tech's Houston Bates was chosen the game's most valuable player, recording 4½ sacks against his former school. The defensive end graduated from Illinois with a year's eligibility remaining and wanted to finish his college career close to home.
Tech led 21-9 lead at halftime after Reilly O'Toole's pass was returned for a touchdown by Woods midway through the second, but Illinois responded with a 3-yard scoring run by Donovonn Young. The 2-point conversion failed, though, but Reisner banked in a field goal to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 3.
O'Toole threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jon Davis early in the second quarter. He was 24 of 39 for a season-high 295 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Taylor Zalewski kicked a 27-yard FG in the first quarter for Illinois, which committed eight first-half penalties for 53 yards and missed two field goals attempts and and extra point.
Rutgers romps past North Carolina
DETROIT — Josh Hicks ran for 202 yards and a touchdown and Rutgers beat North Carolina 40-21 on Friday night in the inaugural Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field.
Gary Nova threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and Robert Martin ran for 100 yards and two scores to help the Scarlet Knights (8-5) cap their first Big Ten season.
Hicks was selected the player of the game.
Owned and operated by the NFL's Detroit Lions, the bowl replaced the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, which had been played in Detroit under various names since 1997. The new bowl was hoped to make a bigger impact with a Big Ten vs. ACC matchup, but drew a disappointing crowd. The announced attendance was 23,876 — smaller than all but one Pizza Bowl — and the actual crowd appeared to be less than half of that.
Rutgers led 40-7 before the Tar Heels (6-7) scored twice in the final 7 minutes. North Carolina also had two second-half touchdown passes taken away because of interference penalties.
North Carolina beat Rutgers in three recent regular-season meetings, but was outplayed from the first snap Friday. Marquise Williams was never able to get going, although he did throw for one score and run for another.
The Scarlet Knights lost the coin toss, but got the ball when North Carolina deferred.
They only needed 2:17 to take the lead, with Nova hitting a wide-open Andre Patton for a 34-yard touchdown strike.
North Carolina got into Rutgers' territory its first two drives, but turned the ball over on the first and punted on the second. The Tar Heels blocking a punt to take over at the 30, but the drive stalled at the 5 and a fake field goal was buried for a 4-yard loss.
The Scarlet Knights answered with a 91-yard drive that ended with Hicks' 21-yard run that made it 14-0 early in the second. Rutgers then turned another Tar Heels fumble into a quick touchdown — Martin's 8-yard run — but missed the extra point, leaving it 20-0.
The Tar Heels missed a field goal, then shanked a punt 20 yards, allowing Rutgers to kick a 19-yard field goal that made it 23-0 at halftime.
Williams got North Carolina on the board with a 1-yard run, but the Scarlet Knights came back with a 34-yard pass from Nova to Andrew Turzilli to make it 30-7. Martin's second touchdown run — this one from 28 yards — gave Rutgers a 30-point advantage early in the fourth.