East County grads make Holiday Bowl homecoming

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The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl game on Dec. 28 marked not only the 40th anniversary of the event but also marked the game’s first match-up of teams ranked nationally in the top 20 since 2008.

Michigan State University (No. 16) and Washington State University (No. 18) provided the marquee matchup at SDCCU Stadium. 

But it largely proved to be anti-climactic as Michigan State trounced the Cougars 42-17 in front of 47,092 fans.

The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl game on Dec. 28 marked not only the 40th anniversary of the event but also marked the game’s first match-up of teams ranked nationally in the top 20 since 2008.

Michigan State University (No. 16) and Washington State University (No. 18) provided the marquee matchup at SDCCU Stadium. 

But it largely proved to be anti-climactic as Michigan State trounced the Cougars 42-17 in front of 47,092 fans.

The game was memorable, however, to the large number of San Diego County high school alumni who made a holiday homecoming.

Washington State featured seven San Diego County players on its roster, including four from East County environs. Linebackers Jahad Woods and Mason Vinyard represented Helix High School in the game while wide receiver Dezmon Patmon and linebacker Dominick Silvels) represented Patrick Henry High School.

Other county prep products included offensive lineman Cedric Gigge-Duren from Oceanside High School; wide receiver C.J. Dimry from La Costa Canyon High School; and cornerback Darrien Moulton from Temecula Chaparral (a county native).

Woods and Patmon both earned starting assignments for Washington State in the matchup against Michigan State.

Patmon, a sophomore, registered four catches for 38 yards, including one grab for 17 yards.

Woods, a redshirt-freshman, was credited with three tackles.

Woods entered the game against Michigan State with one interception and ranked second on the team with 61 tackles, including 30 solo stops.

As a senior at Helix, he earned all-state fourth team honors by Cal-Hi Sports as well as first team Grossmont Hills League and first team San Diego Section honors. He racked up 58 tackles with 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He scored three touchdowns — all on defense.

Vinyard, a redshirt freshman, collected 27 tackles, 5.5 sacks and recovered four fumbles as a senior at Helix. ESPN.com rated him as the No. 25 tight end prospect in the country.

Patmon appeared in four games last season as a freshman for Washington State and collected 341 yards on 31 catches this season. He caught 53 passes for 669 yards and five touchdowns his senior year at Patrick Henry while leading the City League with five interceptions, including four in a playoff game.

Patmon caught 43 passes for 873 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior at Patrick Henry.

Slivels, a 6-3, 219-pound freshman, recorded 1,230 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior at Patrick Henry. 

Game on

The SDCCU Holiday Bowl pairs teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences.

Washington State entered the game with a fierce passing attack that threatened to make Swiss cheese of Michigan State’s solid defense that had recorded 28 sacks and 13 interceptions. 

But it was the Cougars who were left scratching for answers following the lopsided loss.

The Spartans (10-3) made their first Holiday Bowl appearance a memorable one for their large legion of fans who were escaping the ravages of a winter freeze in the Great Lakes region.

The temperature at kick-off at SDCCU Stadium was 66 degrees; the temperature in East Lansing, Mich. on game day was 9 degrees.

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, a redshirt-senior from Logan, Utah, finished the season with 4,497 passing yards (374 yards per game) and 35 touchdowns. He set Pac-12 and WSU career records for passing yards (14,486), passing touchdowns (119), total offense (14,086), plays (2,306), completions (1,404), attempts (2,055) and 300-yard games (30) while setting the WSU record for wins by a quarterback with 27.

Earlier in the month, Falk was the recipient of the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to the top college FBS football player who began his career as a walk-on.  

Falk topped Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, to win the 2017 Burlsworth Award.

But Falk did not play a down in the Holiday Bowl game due to an injury to his non-throwing wrist. 

Instead, Michigan State sophomore signal-caller and first-year starter Brian Lewerke proved to be the game’s passing star with 213 yards and three touchdowns. Lewerke earned offensive MVP honors as the Spartans rolled over the Cougars with 440 offensive yards to record their fifth bowl victory in seven years

Michigan State tied a school record for most points in a quarter in a bowl game with its 21 points in the second quarter.

Cody White caught two of Lewerke’s TD passes while Felton Davis scored on a 49-yard bomb. L.J. Scott rushed for 110 yards and scored two touchdowns. 

Lewerke also rushed for 73 yards in the game.

Michigan State senior linebacker Chris Frey earned the game’s defensive MVP honors. He tied for the team lead with six tackles in the game and also recovered a fumble to set up the Spartans’ fifth consecutive touchdown in the contest. 

WSU sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski collected 272 passing yards with two touchdowns and one interception in his first career start. He threw a pair of late TD passes to Tay Martin after Michigan State had piled up a 35-3 lead.

The Cougars finished the season 9-4.

Extra points

Washington State held practices at Southwestern College leading up to the Dec. 28 game while Michigan State held practices at Mesa College.

Former Padres pitcher Randy Jones served as the Honorary Chairman for the 2017 Holiday Bowl game. Jones, a member of the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame, is a former Cy Young Award winner and is one of San Diego’s most appreciated community icons.

SDCCU Holiday Bowl executive director Mark Neville called Jones “a legendary sports figure and a local treasure.”

“When you think of great athletes in our community and amazing contributors, Randy is at the top of the list,” Neville said.

Among his many activities associated with this year’s bowl game, Jones led the way as Grand Marshall of the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl parade presented by National Funding. 

The Holiday Bowl donated $47,000 to Biz Kid$ as this year’s beneficiary. 

The Emmy award-winning comprehensive financial literacy program teaches kids how to use credit wisely and educates them on the importance of saving, budgeting, investing and giving back to their communities. One dollar from each ticket sold to this year’s game was donated to help provide financial education programs to local students.

For more information visit www.HolidayBowl.com. 

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