In a contrast of styles in San Diego, the strong defense of the Utah State Aggies overcame the prolific offense of the No. 24 Northern Illinois Huskies to win the 2013 Poinsettia Bowl, 21-14, at Qualcomm Stadium.
Joey DeMartino ran for 142 yards to lead Utah State, pushing the Aggies' record to 7-0 in 2013 when having a 100-yard rusher.
In a low-scoring first half, Northern Illinois racked up 234 yards of offense, but penalties and key stops by the Utah State defense limited the Huskies to just a touchdown. Quarterback Jordan Lynch snuck in from a yard with eight minutes left in the half, canceling out two Utah State field goals and giving the Huskies a 7-6 halftime lead.
Lynch started the second half with an interception, giving Utah State a short field. The Aggies converted through a Darell Garretson touchdown pass to Brandon Swindall, and held a 13-7 lead at the end of three quarters.
The Aggies put the game away with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that chopped 7:19 off the clock in the fourth quarter, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by DeMartino for a 21-7 lead.
Lynch led Northern Illinois on a touchdown drive to pull within a touchdown with 1:44 left in the game, but the Aggies were able to secure an onside kick attempt and run out the clock.
Utah State ran for 166 yards on the ground and held the Northern Illinois offense to 315 total yards in the game.
Utah State won a bowl game for the second straight year and for the third time in school history. Northern Illinois finished its season with a pair of losses after beginning the season 12-0. The Aggies improved to 2-0 all-time against the Huskies, also winning their previous matchup in 1995.
Box Score Hero: DeMartino, the senior running back, helped the Aggies play keep away in the second half, and on the game ran for 142 yards on 23 carries, including a 58-yard run late in the first quarter that helped setup the second field goal of the game for Utah State, giving them a 6-0 lead.
Rankings Ramifications: Northern Illinois, which was a potential BCS buster until a loss in the MAC Championship Game, entered the game ranked No. 23. Utah State was unranked.
But Did They Cover? Northern Illinois was a two-point favorite over Utah State and didn't cover the spread.
For More On This Game: For more on NIU football, visit Northern Illinois community Red And Black Attack, plus MAC community Hustle Belt. For more on Utah State, visit MWC community Mountain West Connection.