No. 18 UCLA 35
Game Day: December 30, 2022
EL PASO, Texas – In what could be one of the most memorable Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl games in 89 years, the Pitt Panthers (9-4) beat No. 18 UCLA (9-4), 37-35 in front of 41,104 fans in Sun Bowl Stadium on Friday, Dec. 30.
It was back-and-forth and it took a 47-yard field goal with 10-seconds on the clock for the Panthers to pull off the victory. Pitt’s Ben Sauls, who earned the John Folmer Special Teams MVP finished the day kicking five field goals, a new Sun Bowl record.
“The crowd was amazing, the weather was perfect, and the game was the best!” exclaimed Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “We are truly thankful to our title sponsor, Kellogg’s for supporting this annual event and also thankful to the community and fans in and around the Borderland.”
The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl was exciting from start-to-finish as Pitt quarterback Nick Patti got things going on the third play of the game as he scampered off a 41-yard run, which happened to be the longest run of season by a Pitt quarterback. That helped lead to both teams scoring on their first two possessions. Pitt kicked two field goals while UCLA scored two touchdowns to take an early 14-6 lead.
UCLA was the more dominant team in the first half as it entered red zone in each of its four first half possessions (three touchdowns, one interception) and did not punt once in the opening half. Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson was on an MVP pace in the first half as he was responsible for all three Bruins’ touchdowns with two passing and one rushing.
The second half was a bit different as UCLA gave up 20 unanswered points to Pitt. The Panthers trailed for most of the game and were down by one with less than a minute to play. Panther quarterback Nick Patti willed himself and his team to a first down on a crucial second-down play to set up the go-ahead and game winning field goal.
“It was fun and exciting to see these quarterbacks showcase their talent and toughness in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl,” said Olivas. “We could see these guys and some of their teammates in the NFL soon.”
The UCLA quarterback (Thompson Robinson) went into the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl 285 passing yards shy of becoming the programs’ career leading in passing yards but was just short as he left the game early due to an injury. He finished day with 271 yards passing hitting 16-of-24 attempts with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Panthers went into the game playing without five starters who opted out of the game, but took advantage of five UCLA turnovers, including four interceptions to win one of the most exciting Sun Bowl games in history.
The Panthers improved to 3-2 in Sun Bowl appearances and 15-22 overall in bowls with their first victory in El Paso since 1989. UCLA is also 3-2 in Sun Bowl appearances and is 16-17-1 overall in bowl games.
GAME PROGRAM: https://publogix.com/e/22-SUNBOWL/
C.M. Hendricks MVP: Rodney Hammond Jr. (Pitt, RB)
Jimmy Rogers Jr. MVP Lineman: Jay Toia (UCLA, DE)
John Folmer MVP Special Teams Player: Ben Sauls (Pitt, PK)
CBS Broadcasters: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Jenny Dell
Sun Bowl Association
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