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NCAA FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD: Recap
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Pittsburgh 34, North Carolina St. 19
Posted: Friday December 21, 2001 02:38 AM ET
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ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- If it was Antonio Bryant's last collegiate game, he went out with a bang.

The junior wide receiver, who saw a promising season cut short by injuries, caught seven passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns as Pittsburgh posted its first bowl victory since 1989 with a 34-19 triumph over North Carolina State in the Tangerine Bowl.

The win was the sixth straight for Pittsburgh (7-5), which dropped five straight games during the season. But Bryant and quarterback David Priestley connected on scoring passes of 15 and two yards in the second quarter and the Panthers were never headed.

"It's a credit to these players, who fought through the adversity and the doubters, and look what they accomplished," Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said. "Our team has been through a lot this year. We learned that your only out of it if you decide to give up."

Bryant, who did not catch a pass in the second half, could opt for early entry to the NFL draft. Blessed with a great frame at 6-2 and 200 pounds, Bryant already is regarded as one of the top receiving prospects.

Bryant had been hobbled by an ankle injury and his status for the game was in doubt throughout most of the week. But the two-time All-Big East Conference selection made a number of athletic catches Thursday and displayed his ability to break free after the catch.

Following the game, he dodged questions about his future plans.

"I have not even thought about going pro," Bryant said. "A scholarship is for four years. I like playing college football, it's more exciting than the NFL."

"His physical performance is what we've grown to expect and enjoy," Harris said. "His mental performance is what we love to see. He gave it up for his coach and teammates tonight."

North Carolina State sophomore Philip Rivers had a rough game, completing 26-of-40 passes for just 189 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception and was sacked four times.

"They were tough and played hard," Rivers said. "They made more plays than we did. Their defense is one of the best we've faced this season."

The Wolfpack (7-5) had won four of their previous five games.

The game was a rematch of the 1978 Tangerine Bowl, which North Carolina State won, 30-17.

Pittsburgh broke on top 3-0 on a 27-yard field goal by Nick Lotz, but Adam Kiker countered with a 32-yarder for North Carolina State late in the first quarter.

The Panthers took the lead for good on their first possession of the second quarter. Taking over at the 20, Priestley moved the team 80 yards in seven plays, capping the drive by finding Bryant in the right corner of the end zone for a 10-3 lead.

Priestley put together another drive on Pittsburgh's next possession, engineering a 99-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown toss to Bryant with 4:06 left in the half.

"He showed people why he was the Biletnikoff Award winner last season," North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato said. "He's a great player and their best receiver. He's their go-to guy."

With Pittsburgh enjoying a 17-3 lead, Gregory Golden got the Wolfpack right back in the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a score. But just as it seemed momentum was turning, the Panthers put together the most critical drive of the game.

Using their two-minute offense and aided by a key roughing-the-passer penalty, Pittsburgh moved 70 yards. Rod Rutherford capped the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge that put Pittsburgh ahead, 24-10, with four seconds left.

Lotz added a 33-yard field goal just under five minutes into the third quarter.

North Carolina State got within 27-19 in the final quarter and got back the ball. But Lewis Moore sacked Rivers. The ball came loose and Tyre Young scooped it up and rumbled 16 yards into the end zone for a back-breaking score.

Priestley was 18-of-32 for 271 yards.

 


 
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