EL PASO, Texas – It took almost every second of the 60 minutes played to determine the winner of the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl as two storied universities, Stanford and North Carolina, fought down to the wire before the 16th-ranked Cardinal eventually prevailed 25-23 over the Tar Heels in front of 42,166 fans.
UNC (8-5) trailed by eight with 1:34 left in the game and had to drive 97 yards to try and tie the game after a Stanford (10-3) punt pinned them at the 3-yard line. Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky showed why he is considered one of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL, bouncing back from three previous turnovers to lead UNC down the field on that final drive.
Trubisky began the drive with a 13-yard completion to All-ACC first teamer Ryan Switzer. The big pass play came a few plays later after Trubisky hit his big 6-5 target Bug Howard down the sideline for a 44-yard completion that took the ball from the UNC 28-yard line to the Stanford 28-yard line.
Once again it was Switzer and Howard that would wrap up the drive as a 27-yard completion to Switzer placed the ball at the 1-yard line with just over 30 seconds remaining. After a run that lost a yard and an incomplete pass, Trubisky seemed to be in trouble on third down but somehow escaped, scrambled and eventually found Howard in the end zone with 25 seconds left to get within a two-point conversion of tying the game.
But the biggest name on the Cardinal defense came up big during the two-point conversion as defensive end and eventual C.M. Hendricks MVP award winner Solomon Thomas sliced through the Tar Heel offensive line and got to Trubisky before he had a chance to get a pass off. A failed onside kick would close UNC’s chances and give Stanford its third Sun Bowl victory and first in 20 years.
The future NFL prospect Thomas finished with seven tackles, two for losses, a sack and the biggest play of the game. He is the first defensive player to win the Sun Bowl MVP since UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was named Co-MVP in 2013 and the first defensive lineman to win the award since Oregon State’s Victor Butler won the award in 2008.
Trubisky finished 23-of-39 for 280 yards but had three costly turnovers including two interceptions and a fumble. On the Stanford side, senior quarterback Ryan Burns relieved starter Keller Chryst after he got injured in the first quarter. Burns finished 6-of-12 for 86 yards. Leading the charge for the Cardinal was running back Bryce Love, who was playing in place of Stanford’s All-American Christian McCaffrey. Love finished with 119 yards on the ground on 21 carries including a career-high 59-yard romp. He also caught a 49-yard touchdown pass.
The Tar Heels would take an early 7-0 lead, only to see the Cardinal mark 16-straight points, mainly off the leg of place kicker Conrad Ukropina who tied a Sun Bowl record with four field goals in the game en route to being named the John Folmer Most Valuable Special Teams Player.
The Tar Heels struck first to open the scoring. After holding the Cardinal to a three-and-out on their first possession, Trubisky led UNC on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Switzer. The touchdown connection was Trubisky’s 29th passing touchdown of the season, a new school record.
The rest of the first-half scoring, however, belonged to the team from the Pac-12 as Stanford would rally for the final 13 points of the first stanza. The Cardinal immediately evened the score following the Tar Heel touchdown drive with a quick touchdown drive of their own.
The drive, which only took six plays and less than three minutes, culminated with a 49-yard touchdown pass Chryst to Love. Love’s first touchdown reception of the season knotted the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Stanford then had an eventful third possession that started around midfield after a UNC three-and-out. After an early personal foul flag for a late hit against the Tar Heels, the Cardinal seemed to have their second-straight touchdown after Chryst hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the corner of the end zone for an apparent 27-yard score. The called was looked at and after further review it was determined that the ball hit the ground before the catch, thus negating the score.
On the next play from scrimmage, Chryst ran down the field on a quarterback keeper, but did not get up after the tackle. He had to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury and would not return to the game. Burns, who started the first seven games of the season for Stanford, would play the rest of the game.
Burns gained positive yardage on his first play from scrimmage, but a delay of game penalty and a sack would stall the drive. The Cardinal would have to settle for a Ukropina 44-yard field goal a few plays into the second quarter that would give them their first lead of the game.
On UNC’s following possession, Trubisky would have his first turnover as Stanford’s Dallas Lloyd intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards to the Tar Heel 35-yard line. However, the Cardinal could not move the ball and came away empty after Ukropina missed on a 36-yard attempt that hit the left upright.
Ukropina would redeem himself, however, after Trubisky fumbled the ball after apparently running into an official with under two minutes left in the half. Ukropina nailed a 33-yarder, his school record 20th of the season, as Stanford led 13-7 at the half.
UNC kicker Nick Weiler tried to cut into the Cardinal lead during the first possession of the second half, but his 51-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. The middle portion of the third quarter saw the teams add a field goal to their score as Ukropina hit a 43-yard field goal and Weiler redeemed himself with a 37-yarder.
Down six, the Tar Heels turned to senior running back T. J. Logan to help them regain the lead. Logan’s running led a 9-play, 68-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by freshman Jordan Brown, his first career touchdown. UNC regained the lead 17-16 with just over two minutes left in the third.
Lloyd once again came up big for Stanford a couple of plays into the fourth quarter as the senior safety once again intercepted a Trubisky pass, this time running it back 19 yards for a pick-six that once again gave the Cardinal the lead, this time at 22-17 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Ukropina’s record-tying fourth field goal with 3:23 left gave Stanford a 25-17 lead that set up the game’s final dramatic moments.
Stanford has now won its last three bowl games and finishes the season on a six-game winning streak. The Tar Heels, on the other hand, finish the season losing two of three and have lost three-straight bowl games.
EL PASO, Texas – Fans and families do not want to miss out on the 2016 Fan Fiesta presented by El Paso Live, Thursday, Dec. 29 at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center from 4-8 p.m. (MT), with a fireworks show immediately following.
An El Paso holiday staple since 1998, the Fan Fiesta has gained a new sponsor in El Paso Live.
Admission to the event is free with a wide variety of entertainment planned for the party, including local afro-toting disco legends, Fungi Mungle, matachines dancers, mariachis, ballet folklorico and a performance by the University of North Carolina band.
A sneak peek of Sun Bowl half-time performers Elia Esparza and Khaliya Kimberlie is also planned. Wild West-inspired performance troupe Six Guns and Shady Ladies will be part of the entertainment lineup.
Restaurants including Forti’s Mexican Elder, Carnitas Queretaro and Delicious Burrito will be serving up signature dishes. Academy Sports’ interactive tent, along with Sports World and Hyundai Sun Bowl Apparel, are providing team gear to Stanford and North Carolina, along with El Paso-themed items.
A kids’ area will also be set up with 18 interactive and inflatable activities. A $5 wristband is required. Military guests with a valid ID can enjoy the interactive attractions for free.
The Fan Fiesta is a way to showcase the spirit, flavor and hospitality of El Paso. Along with the various performing groups representing different artistic styles, multiple food and merchandise vendors will be on hand.
Sun Bowl Association Special Events Director Joe Daubach mentioned that the event continues to grow in popularity, and he fully expects great attendance.
2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta -Presented by El Paso Live
MAIN HALL PERFORMANCES
4:00 p.m. – 4:05 p.m. – National Anthem
4:05 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Horizon High School Band and Stanford Cheerleaders
4:35 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. – Introduction of the Sun Court
5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. – Performance by Fungi Mungle
5:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Elia Esparza and Khaliya Kimberli
6:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. – University of North Carolina Band Performance
6:45 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Performance by Fungi Mungle
4:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.- Performance by Ballet Folklorico Paso Del Norte
Mariachis Raices de America
6:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. – Performance by Danza San Pio X de Matachines
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Performance by Danza San Pio X de Matachines
8:15 p.m – 8:25 p.m. – Fireworks Spectacular
Other Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta Entertainment
FREE admission from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
FREE – Face painting for the kids and adults
FREE – Entertainment including Bands, Dance Groups, Mariachi Players and much more
FREE – Ability to take picture with a Wild Western Group and Hyundai Sun Bowl Selfie Booth
Halftime performers and “The Voice" Contestants Elia Esparza of El Paso and Khaliya Kimberlie
Delicious Burrito and SMG Ball Park Favorites
Various Vendors – Sun Bowl apparel, El Paso souvenirs, 18 interactive displays and many other venders
The Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta will COMP all military children under 12 a $5 wristband. This will allow unlimited entries to the 18 inflatable/interactive games. You must present your Military ID at the inflatable games ticket tent to receive the wristband.
EL PASO, Texas – The 55th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational concluded on Thursday, Dec. 22 with Akron defeating Maryland Eastern Shore in the Championship Game 76-60, while UC Irvine picked up a victory in the Consolation Game 62-57 over UTEP in the Don Haskins Center.
This marks the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Title for the Zips and moves them to 10-3 on the year.
Akron’s Atino Jackson was awarded the Barry Kobren Most Valuable Player Award after he tallied 13 points, six assists and only one turnover in 32 minutes of play against the Hawks of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dante Caldwell of Maryland Eastern Shore was awarded the Don Haskins Award, which is presented to the player who best exemplifies the characteristics most valued by Coach Haskins.
Isaiah Johnson (Akron)
Bakari Copeland (Maryland Eastern Shore)
Jaron Martin (UC Irvine)
Dominic Artis (UTEP)
Don Haskins Award
Dante Caldwell (Maryland Eastern Shore)
Barry Kobren Most Valuable Player Award
Game One Recap
Senior guard Jaron Martin scored 22 points to lead UC Irvine over UTEP, 62-57, in the consolation game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational at El Paso, Texas, Thursday night.
Martin was 7-of-11 from the field, including 6-of-10 from the three-point line. He hit four triples in the span of two minutes early in the second half and his fourth trey put the Anteaters up 44-38 with 15:36 left, a lead that UCI would never relinquish. Martin scored 17 of his points in the second half.
It was Martin’s third consecutive 20-point game and his fifth of the season as he has averaged 25.0 points in the last three contests. Martin, who was named to the all-tournament team, has 146 career threes to rank ninth in UCI history, six behind No. 8 Daman Starring.
Senior center Ioannis Dimakopoulos added 12 points and tied his career high with 11 rebounds while freshman guard Evan Leonard recorded a career-best 11 points, hitting 8-of-8 free throws. Sophomore forward Jonathan Galloway pulled down nine rebounds and sophomore Brandon Smith tied his career high with seven boards while redshirt freshman guard Max Hazzard registered a career-best six assists.
This marked the eighth consecutive loss for the UTEP Miners, but came out of it feeling a lot more optimistic heading into the holiday break.
The Miners got after it on the defensive end, implementing a zone that frustrated the Anteaters into 36 percent shooting. And for the second straight game, UTEP went down to the wire with UCI, only to come up just a bit short.
Paul Thomas was 4-for-4 from the field and 5-for-5 from the line in Wednesday’s tournament opener against Maryland Eastern Shore. Willms averaged 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the tournament, making 11-of-17 shots.
Game Two Recap
Bolstered by a strong defensive effort, strong 3-point shooting and solid depth, the Akron Zips knocked off Maryland Eastern Shore, 76-60, in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational championship game on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center.
The Zips held the Hawks to just 39 percent shooting, hit 10 3-pointers and had eight players score on the night. Also, Akron outscored Maryland Eastern Shore 42-30 in the second half.
Akron is now 10-3 on the season, while Maryland Eastern Shore is 2-12.
The Zips, who had 19 assists as a team, had five players score in double figures. Post Isaiah Johnson led the way with 15 points, guards Antino Jackson and Jimond Ivey chipped in with 13 points, forward Kwan Cheatham had 10 points and Tavian Dunn-Martin had 10 points. Jackson added six assists and had just one turnover in 32 minutes.
(recaps courtesy of UC Irvine and UTEP media relations and El Paso Times)
EL PASO, Texas – The 55th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational started on Wednesday, Dec. 21 with Akron defeating the defending champion, UC Irvine 88-80 in game one of the day and Maryland Eastern Shore picking up a win over UTEP in game two 71-66
Akron faces Maryland Eastern Shore in the championship game at 7 p.m. (MT), after UTEP takes on UC Irvine in the consolation game at 5 p.m.
Game One Recap
The Akron Zips advanced to the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Championship Game after defeating UC Irvine 88-80 on Wednesday evening at the Don Haskins Center. In addition, the win gave 13th-year head coach Keith Dambrot his 287 career win at Akron, just one win away from tying the program’s all-time win record.
Junior guard Antino Jackson, a Houston, Texas native, led all-scorers with 23 points, and three more Zips scored in double figures. Sophomore guard Josh Williams recorded 18 points, while senior center Isaiah Johnson and junior guard Noah Robotham contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively.
For UC Irvine Freshman Brad Greene registered career highs of 10 points and nine rebounds, and freshman Eyassu Worku also scored 10 points. Freshman Tommy Rutherford added eight boards in the first meeting between the Big West Conference and Mid-American Conference schools.
Game Two Recap
Bakari Copeland scored a career-high 27 points, doing his damage inside and out as Maryland-Eastern Shore knocked off UTEP, 71-66, on day one of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Wednesday in the Haskins Center.
The Miners (2-8) lost their seventh straight and will meet UC Irvine (5-9) in the tournament consolation game on Thursday at 5 p.m.
UTEP outshot UMES (2-11) 41.8 percent to 37.5 percent, and outrebounded the Hawks 44-31. But the Miners couldn’t overcome 3-for-17 shooting from three-point territory, and UTEP finished with 14 turnovers to UMES’ six.
Copeland made 7-of-13 shots, 4-of-6 three pointers and 9-of-11 free throws while adding seven rebounds for UMES, which won its first road game of the season. UTEP has lost five in a row at home.
Dontae Caldwell added 13 points for the Hawks, and Ryan Andino scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
(recaps courtesy of Akron, UC Irvine and UTEP media relations)
EL PASO, Texas – The 55th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational starts today, Dec. 21 with two games scheduled. Below is the information on today’s games and attached are game notes from each team.
5 p.m. – Akron (Visiting Team) vs. UC Irvine (Home Team)
7 p.m. – Maryland Eastern Shore (Visiting Team) vs. UTEP (Home Team)
Akron record: 5-8
UC Irvine record: 8-3
UMES record: 1-11
UTEP record: 2-7
Akron Head Coach: Keith Dambrot (Akron, ’82)
UC Irvine Head Coach: Russell Turner (Hampden-Sydney, ’92)
UMES Head Coach: Bobby Collins (Eastern Kentucky , ’91)
UTEP Head Coach: Tim Floyd (Louisiana Tech, ’77)