Originally published 1:03 a.m. Dec. 27.
Former Mt Carmel High School and Grossmont College standout Joey DeMartino rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown leading Utah State to a 21-14 victory over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl Thursday at Qualcomm Stadium.
DeMartino's one-yard run and Darell Garretson's two-point conversion pass to Bruce Natson gave the Aggies a 21-7 lead with four minutes, 14 seconds to play.
Jordan Lynch threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Brescacin on a fourth-and-10 play with 1:44 left for Northern Illinois (12-2).
Utah State (9-5) recovered the Huskies onside kick and ran out the clock.
In a mistake-filled game that included three interceptions, a lost fumble and three missed field goals, the Aggies took a 3-0 lead on Nick Diaz's 31-yard field goal with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
Diaz's 39-yard field goal 51 seconds into the second quarter increased Utah State's lead to 6-0, four plays after DeMartino's 58-yard run, the longest in the Poinsettia Bowl's nine-year history.
Lynch ran one yard for a touchdown 8:17 before halftime, culminating a 15-play, 78-yard drive where Lynch completed four of five passes for 43 yards and ran four times for 15 yards.
The Aggies regained the lead on Garretson's five-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Swindall with 11:57 left in the third quarter.
DeMartino was selected as the offensive MVP and Utah State linebacker Jake Doughty the defensive MVP for making eight tackles, including 1.5 for losses, and forcing a fumble.
Northern Illinois outgained Utah State, 315 yards to 289, and led in first downs, 19-17.
Lynch, who finished third in voting for the Heisman Trophy, completed 20 of 35 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. He had one pass intercepted and was sacked twice.
Garretson completed 17 of 28 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. He had two passes intercepted and was sacked twice.
The announced attendance of 23,408 was the lowest in Poinsettia Bowl history. The previous low was 24,607 for the 2011 game between Louisiana Tech and Texas Christian.
The game's record attendance came in 2010 when San Diego State's 35-14 victory over Navy drew an announced crowd of 48,049.
This was the first Poinsettia Bowl played after Christmas. The change was caused by a limited amount of available dates, according to Mark Neville, the Poinsettia Bowl's associate executive director. The latest previous Poinsettia Bowl was on Dec. 23 in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The earliest was on Dec. 19, 2006.
The game is expected to return to before Christmas next year and remain there, Neville said.
–City News Service