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Ryan leads Boston College past Michigan State

Dec 29, 2007 - 4:41 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Matt Ryan finished up his collegiate career in fine fashion.

Ryan completed 22-of-47 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns as No. 14 Boston College held off Michigan State, 24-21, in the Champs Sports Bowl on Friday.

Rich Gunnell caught six passes for 138 yards and two scores and the defense forced five turnovers for the Eagles (11-3), who have won eight straight bowl games - the longest streak in the nation.

"It was a great game by our guys," Boston College first-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. "We started out a little bit rusty. I think maybe the layoff hurt us a little bit. But our guys fought. The best part of our football team is our team, and they played well together."

Ryan, who was a mid-season favorite for the Heisman Trophy after leading Boston College to an 8-0 start and a No 2 ranking, struggled early in this game before getting in rhythm.

The fifth-year senior, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, started 1-of-5 and watched as the Spartans took a 7-0 lead just 97 seconds into the game on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer to Kellen Davis. The three-play drive was helped by a 79-yard kickoff return by Devin Thomas to open the contest.

However, Ryan, on a rollout, hit tight end Jon Loyte with a 1-yard TD toss with 36 seconds left in the first period to knot the game at 7-7. Ryan then threw a 29-yard strike to Gunnell midway through the second period to help give the Eagles to a 14-10 halftime lead.

"We knew coming into the game we wanted to take some chances against their corners," Ryan said. "They were bringing pressure all night and had a bunch of guys in the box so we wanted to take advantage of the one-on-one coverage."

After the teams traded a pair of field goals in the third quarter, the Boston College signal caller made his biggest connection of the game in the final period.

With the ball on the BC 32, Ryan threw a deep pass to Gunnell, who hauled in the spiral at the Michigan State 30 before racing the rest of the way for the score that provided Boston College a 24-13 lead with 9:21 remaining.

"Rich ran a great route," Ryan said. "He's been doing that all year. He made a great play on the ball and created some serious separation after he caught the pass."

The scoring play helped Ryan increase his school single-season record for touchdown passes to 31.

"I thought we did an outstanding job," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "Our coaching staff knew exactly what BC was doing, but we got beat over the top."

Hoyer, who was 13-of-35 for 128 yards, two TD passes and four interceptions, hit Deon Curry from 14 yards out and the Spartans' cut their deficit to 24-21 after a two-point conversion with 6:04 remaining. Hoyer was picked off at his own 31-yard line by safety Paul Anderson with 2:29 left.

"The Eagles have a good defense," Dantonio said. "I think that (senior safety Jamie) Silva is an excellent football player and he does a nice job breaking up things."

Michigan State (7-6) outgained Boston College, 303-276, and had a time of possesion advantage of 32:13 to 27:47 but was done in by the turnovers, including two interceptions by Silva.

"I came in with a great class and we're leaving as the winningest class in BC history," Silva said. "That's something special and something we'll take with us for a while. It's been great getting to know all the guys and playing with them. It's been a blast."