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Champs! Coastal Carolina beat NIU to win 2021 Cure Bowl in Orlando



ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Coastal Carolina used a stop at the goal line as time expired to win the 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl, by defeating NIU 47-41, on Friday at Exploria Stadium. Quarterback Grayson McCall was named the Most Valuable Player after totaling a Cure Bowl-record four touchdowns and 315 yards on 22-of-30 passing.

“(Our first bowl win) is huge,” McCall said. “We talked about this a long time. We got the opportunity to come back to the Cure Bowl after not being able to finish it off last year the way we wanted to. It is great to send the seniors off. These are the guys that got us to this point. There is no better feeling then being able to send them off on the high note.”

This was Coastal Carolina’s (11-2) first-ever bowl game victory. The Chanticleers made their second-straight appearance in the Cure Bowl and avenged a heartbreaking overtime loss to Liberty in the 2020 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl.

“To go from nobodies, why are you making the move from FCS to FBS? Five football seasons later – to be a conference champion, to be a bowl champion, to be Top-25 team in the country – what a legacy and foundation,” Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jamey Chadwell said. “I am proud of the way that they competed and found a way. It is a pretty special time.”

The game had seven lead changes with the teams scoring on each of their first 12 possessions, minus a kneel down to end the first half. The first stop was the NIU (9-5) defense stepping up and forcing a three-and-out at the end of the fourth quarter, leading to a 45-yard field goal by John Richardson to extend its lead to 41-33.

The Chanticleers responded with a touchdown of their own, a 40-yard catch by Isaiah Likely, but were unable to convert the two-point play, 41-39.

Coastal Carolina had it’s biggest defensive stand by stopping the Huskies on 3rd– and 4th-and-1 at the NIU 34. On the next play, McCall found running back Braydon Bennett on a forward pitch for a 34-yard touchdown with 6:40 remaining. The two-point conversion was successful following a catch by senior tight end Isaiah Likely, 47-41.

The play of the game was made by senior linebacker Silas Kelly, who forced a fumble following a 13-yard gain on a third-and-long. The last chance for the Huskies came as time was ticking down and following a 4th-and-1 conversion from the Coastal Carolina eight yard line, time expired.

“I am just happy that I was able to make a play for my team,” Kelly said. “We needed something to happen, a little bit of a momentum shift. I was just trying to do everything I could do for my team. I am lucky that I got it out and Dre (Pinckney) picked it up. It was something that I am proud to do for the team.”

NIU was paced by quarterback Rocky Lombardi with three total touchdowns – two through the air and one on the ground. The Huskies’ rushing attack saw Jay Ducker total 146 yards, while Antario Brown gained 105 yards and one touchdown.

The USSOCOM Para-Commandos from MacDill Air Force Base flew in a commemorative pink game ball during a pregame ceremony. Coastal Carolina made history by being the first team in a regulation game to kickoff a ball with pink laces – a request that was approved by the NCAA.


  • To date, the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl has been a platform to donate over $3.88 million towards its charity partner, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
  • Of the total donated at the game, over $1.2 million in grants have been distributed to local Orlando BCRF research Dr. Annette Khaled.
  • FFVA Mutual presented a check to the Orlando Sports Foundation in the first quarter. A check of $32,000 showcased the money raised at the FFVA Mutual Invitational.
  • During the first quarter, SoftWash Systems presented a check for $32,826 to the Orlando Sports Foundation. The Sanford, Fla., based company has a nation-wide network of more than 250 soft-washing professionals.
  • Following the first quarter, Allied Building Solutions presented the Orlando Sports Foundation with a check for $15,000.
  • The Orlando Sports Foundation’s mission is to bring teams together to find a cure for cancer.


  • Sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall tossed a pair of 40-yard touchdown passes and added ones from 34 and 27 yards.
  • The Indian Trail, N.C., native helped lead the Chanticleers rally back in the fourth quarter with TD strikes to Bennett and Likely.
  • He also added 40 yards on the ground.
  • One of his favorite targets, Isaiah Likely, had two TD catches and 96 yards, surpassing the 2,000 yard mark in his career.
  • McCall also found senior Jaion Heiligh seven times for 94 yards.

– Head Coach Jamey Chadwell

“He has developed into a leader. When things looked bleak there, he was telling the guys that we are fine. He kept believing in those guys. They rallied around him. Even the defense believed in him. We are going to score, if we can get a couple stops and we did. There is not enough that I can say in the way that he has developed this year.”


  • Senior linebacker Silas Kelly totaled 14 tackles, including one for-loss, while forcing a fumble and QB hurry.
  • Senior Teddy Gallagher and Alex Spillum contributed 12 stops each.
  • A pair of Chanticleers Dre Pinckney and Enock Makozon each added 10 tackles.
  • Coastal Carolina registered defensive stops on each of the last three Huskie drives.

– Linebacker Silas Kelly

We had a big fourth quarter. That is crunch time. We pride ourselves at Coastal on being a fourth quarter team. In the fourth quarter, all the chips are on the line. That is when you make your plays. That is when the true character of your team comes out.


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College Football

2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: LSU Routs Purdue University 62-7



LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (#8) runs the ball against the Purdue University Boilermakers during the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday, January 2, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.
LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (#8) runs the ball against the Purdue University Boilermakers during the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday, January 2, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The LSU Tigers faced the Purdue University Boilermakers in the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium Monday. The Tigers made their sixth Citrus Bowl appearance, last appearing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl back in 2018 and LSU’s current coach, Brian Kelly, was ironically the head coach of the opposing team that year, Notre Dame. Needless to say LSU came into Monday’s game with considerable experience.

For Purdue’s part, their team is still working on gelling together with new head coach Brian Brohm, who admitted during the head coaches press conference Sunday that “everything is still in flux” for his team with his brother Jeff Brohm, who had coached for six seasons, leaving to coach the Louisville Cardinals.

The quick version: The LSU Tigers absolutely devoured the Purdue Boilermakers in Monday’s Citrus Bowl match. The Purdue defense was nearly non-existent in the first half, allowing a whopping 35 points before halftime. 35 points.

Want to see the carnage unfold in detail? Keep reading.


First Half

Halfway through the first quarter (7:01) LSU got on the board with a touchdown with running back John Emery Jr.’s one-yard scramble into the end zone.

With 1:06 left in the first quarter, LSU scored again with running back Noah Cain rushing the ball nine yards, making the score 14-0.

With 1:01 left in the first, on Purdue’s next possession, wide receiver Ben Van Noord fumbled the ball, which LSU safety Major Burns recovered, giving LSU the ball again–in the same spot just 20 yards away from the end zone. However, after review, the call was overturned, giving Purdue the ball back.

The Boilermakers remained scoreless, however.

LSU’s carnage continued in the second quarter. The Tiger scored their third touchdown early in the quarter (13:03) with Daniels’s 32-yard pass to tight end Mason Taylor, creating a point canyon for Purdue to have to cross, 21-0.

With 8:32, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels chose to keep the ball and nearly broke away for the touchdown rush, but was tackled

Cain finished the job for LSU, rushing in the final nine yards for the touchdown, 28-0 after the extra point.

Halfway through the second quarter, on Purdue’s possession, they were set up to punt, but instead successfully made the fourth down conversion with a first down.

With 3:11 left in the second quarter, LSU devastated Purdue. Purdue quarterback Austin Burton’s end zone pass intended for Paul Piferi got intercepted by LSU’s Camdyn Childers. LSU then made good on the pick and got their fifth touchdown in five plays for 87 yards, blowing out the score to 35-0 with 1:07 left in the first half. By the 0:14 mark, after both teams used a time out, both teams let the clock run out and headed to the locker room. The official halftime score: 35-0.

In the first half, LSU clocked 249 passing yards to Purdue’s 73 and 115 rushing yards to Purdue’s 15. LSU was five of seven on third down conversions compared to Purdue’s three of nine. LSU’s defense sacked Purdue’s quarterbacks three times for a total loss of 21 yards and made six Purdue tackles for a total loss of 28 yards.

Purdue quarterback Austin Burton was 11 of 21 on passes for 73 total yards in the first half. Running back Devin Mockabee led Purdue in rushing with eight for a total of 73 yards.


Second Half

LSU showed no signs of stopping in the third quarter. On LSU’s possession, Purdue’s defense broke up a touchdown pass on the first down. However, LSU made up for it on second down with wide receiver Malik Nabers’ five-yard pass to Jayden Daniels, making the score 42-0.

At 9:17 in the third, LSU safety Greg Brooks, Jr. intercepted Purdue quarterback Michael Alaimo’s attempted touchdown pass, after which LSU players ran to the sideline to celebrate with Cheez-It mascot Ched Z and jumped on the Cheez-It bed set. As expected, they earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Interestingly, so did head coach Brian Kelly a few seconds later.

Ironically, with 5:23 left in the third, Purdue finally fed LSU a taste of their own medicine. LSU quarterback Garrett Nussmeier’s attempted touchdown pass intended for wide receiver Kyren Lacy was intercepted by Purdue cornerback Jamari Brown.

Purdue didn’t capitalize on their next possession, though, and as soon as LSU got the ball back, Nussmeier passed to Nabers, who ran the ball 75 yards for LSU’s seventh touchdown, making the score 49-0.

Purdue finally hammered their way to a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter with an eight-play scoring drive for 75 yards, making the score 49-7. Alaimo made the successful 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver TJ Sheffield.

With 8:47 left in the game, LSU answered Purdue with another touchdown. Safety Derrick Davis Jr. ran the ball 12 yards to the endzone for the 56-7 score.

At 6:01 in the fourth, Purdue wide receiver Deion Burks was running to catch a pass when LSU safety Sage Ryan, attempting to break up the pass, fell on him, causing Burks to get injured. the clock stopped.

While scoring stalled for most of the fourth, LSU managed one last major stinger. LSU safety Quad Wilson intercepted Purdue’s punt return and ran it all the way across to the other end zone–99 yards–for LSU’s ninth touchdown. The extra point attempt failed, but LSU was able to secure their 10th season win as the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl Champions with a 62-7 final score.


2023 Cheez-It Bowl Postgame Press Conference

Purdue head coach Brian Brohm, and wide receivers TJ Sheffield and Elijah Canion as well as LSU head coach Brian Kelly, wide receiver Malik Nabers and cornerback Jarrick Converse spoke with the media.



Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. |

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College Football

VIDEO: 2022 Cheez-It Bowl Postgame Press Conference



Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell (right) holds the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl trophy after the Seminoles defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 35-32 at Camping World Stadium Thursday, December 29, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.
Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell (right) holds the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl trophy after the Seminoles defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 35-32 at Camping World Stadium Thursday, December 29, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The head coaches from Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles, as well as both quarterbacks and players from both teams talk with the press after FSU’s 35-32 victory over Oklahoma during the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium.

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College Football

2022 Cheez-It Bowl: FSU Secures 25th 10-Win Season with 35-32 Win Over Oklahoma



Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis dodges the Oklahoma Sooners defense as he searches for a pass target during the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl Camping World Stadium Thursday, December 29, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The Florida State Seminoles entered Thursday’s Cheez-It Bowl hungry for a win to make this another 10-win season for the university, which hasn’t happened since 2016.


First Half

At just 11:26 in the first quarter, FSU got on the board first with a 23-yard field goal, making the score 3-0.

Oklahoma quarterback and former UCF Knight Dillon Gabriel answered back with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jalil Farooq, giving Oklahoma a 7-3 lead with 7:01 left in the first.

On their next drive, FSU attempted a fourth down conversion, but Oklahoma’s defense prevented it, allowing them to get the ball back.

At the start of the second quarter, Gabriel, seeing the defense crowding out any passing chances, scrambled and flipped over two Seminole players to land in the right corner of the end zone for Oklahoma’s second touchdown, quickly widening their lead to 14-3 after the successful extra point.

With 9:53 left in the first half, Oklahoma made a field goal attempt, but it failed.

With 7:24 left in the first half, FSU finally made their first touchdown with quarterback Jordan Travis’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson. Immediately following the touchdown, FSU successfully made a two-point conversion, shrinking Oklahoma’s lead to 14-11.

FSU defensive back Shyheim Brown was down, lingering on the field during the final timeout of the first half. With some help, he was able to walk off the field. To close out the first half, Oklahoma nailed a 41-yard field goal, making the score 17-11.

FSU tried to make a score on its next possession with 15 seconds left in the first half, but it didn’t quite happen. Travis rushed the ball himself 26 yards for a first down, and on the next play kicker Ryan Fitzgerald attempted a 45-yard field goal, but it fell just short of the goal post, cementing Oklahoma’s 17-11 lead at halftime.

Oklahoma’s offense was much more proactive in the first half, going five of nine on third down conversions compared to FSU’s one of six.


Second Half

FSU running back Treshaun Ward scrambled the ball one yard into the end zone for FSU’s next touchdown, snatching the lead by one point, 18-17.

With roughly a minute left in the third quarter, during FSU’s attempt to make good on a fourth down, Travis passed the ball directly into Oklahoma defensive back Billy Bowman’s hands, forcing what was already going to happen anyway: Oklahoma’s next possession.

The score remained 18-17 at the end of the third quarter.

Oklahoma changed that at the start of the fourth, with Sawchuk running the ball three yards for their next touchdown, followed by their own successful two-point conversion, propelling them far ahead again, 25-18.

On FSU’s next possession, Ward came through clutch again, rushing straight up the middle and breaking away from the crowd to freely rush 38 yards for their next touchdown, tying the score at 25.

At 9:41 in the fourth quarter, FSU’s Omarion Cooper forced Oklahoma’s Sawchuk to fumble the ball, which was recovered by FSU’s Jammie Robinson. The drive ended in Travis’ pass to Markeston Doulas for the touchdown. After the extra point, FSU led 31-25 with 7:22 left in the game.

Oklahoma was able to tie the game again with another touchdown.

FSU broke the tie on fourth down with Ryan Fitzgerald’s 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the game.

The game ended with another sack on Dillon Gabriel, his seventh for the night.

FSU got their 25th 10-win season with Thursday night’s Cheez-It Bowl victory, 35-32.


Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. |

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