Sunday, February 2, 2003

Hula Bowl: South 27, North 24



By Jaymes Song
The Associated Press

WAILUKU, Hawaii - Dan Nystrom couldn't have dreamed of a better way to cap his college career. The Minnesota kicker made a 44-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to cap a 24-point fourth quarter in the South's 27-24 victory in the Hula Bowl on Saturday night.

"It's a kicker's dream to kick a game-winning field goal and to be able to kick it in the Hula Bowl is just a great honor," Nystrom said.

South coach Larry Coker of Miami chose Nystrom over his own Miami kicker, Todd Sievers, for the winning attempt.

Lousiana-Lafayette's Ivan Taylor set up the kick by recovering an onside kick after California's Joe Igber tied it with a 1-yard dive with 55 seconds remaining.

The South overcame a 24-3 deficit in the fourth quarter. Charles Pauley of San Jose State began the comeback with an 8-yard pass from Arizona's Jason Johnson.

After recovering an onside kick, the South scored again on a 9-yard pass from Iowa's Brad Banks to Utah's Paris Jackson.

"They were playing for pride," Coker said.

San Diego State's Kassim Osgood led the South with six catches for 117 yards.

For the North, David Kircus caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. The receiver from NCAA Division II national champion Grand Valley State outperformed many of the other all-stars from the nation's top football programs.

"I've done it throughout the season," he said. "Playing with the best guys in the country on national television is a great opportunity to showcase what I can do."

The game at Maui's War Memorial Stadium, played in breezy conditions and a high school atmosphere, closed the college football season.

Coker said the crowd was the smallest crowd he has coached in front of in a long time.

"But it was a good crowd, they were into it. They got their money's worth," he said.

Both of his Kircus' touchdowns came in the first half where the North scored on three straight possessions to take a 21-0 lead.

The first two scores were set up by a pair of South turnovers by Banks, the AP Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy runner-up.

"I haven't done that in a long time, to comeback and win a game like that," said Banks who went 13-of-22 for 154 yards. He also had 23 rushing on nine attempts.

An errant pass by Banks was picked off by Hawaii linebacker Chris Brown and gave the South the ball at the North's 42. That led to a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kircus from Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury who finished with 87 yards on 9-of-24 passing.

Banks' fumble gave the North the ball in the South's territory. On the next play, Harvard receiver Carl Morris took a pitch from Kingsbury and threw a 39-yard pass to Kircus to make it 14-0.

The North capped its scoring in the first half on a 21-yard pass from Harvard's Neil Rose to Brigham Young tight end Gabriel Reid. The South managed to make it 24-3 just before halftime on a 24-yard field goal by Nystrom.

The South not only had to deal with the North in its comeback. The team also had to deal with the clock, which kept running for most of the second half.

The North wore "Kai" uniforms, which means ocean in Hawaiian. The South played for the "Aina," or the land.

Notes

Flags were flown at half-staff and a moment of silence was observed before the game for the seven astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia earlier in the day. ... The players were scheduled to travel to Honolulu to watch Sunday's Pro Bowl from the sidelines. ... Kentucky's Glenn Pakulak was presented the Mosi Tatupu Special Teams Award at halftime. ... Hawaii had the most players with six, followed by Miami and Nebraska with four each. ... College players from Japan played in the Hula Bowl for the first time. ... The game was played on the stadium's new grass field, installed by NFL field expert George Toma.




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Hula Bowl: South 27, North 24
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