It was a happy homecoming for Joey DeMartino at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night.
The Mt. Carmel grad and Grossmont College transfer led Utah State to a 21-14 victory over Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl with a game-high 143 rushing yards, earning himself the game’s offensive MVP.
His 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Aggies (9-5) who held Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch to just 39 yards on the ground.
"I couldn't ask for a better senior game to go out on and to be in front of my hometown, my family, my friends and everyone who supported me out here," DeMartino said after the game.
He also set a Poinsettia Bowl record with a 58-yard run in the first half en route to his seventh 100-yard game of the season – all wins for the Aggies.
Lynch finished third in Heisman voting and accounted for two touchdowns (one rushing and one passing) but never got the Huskies (12-2) in a rhythm on offense. They were stymied by safety Brian Suite, who recovered a Lynch fumble and intercepted a pass for Utah State.
The ugly game featured four turnovers and three missed field goals – two by the Huskies. Attendance was only 23,408, lowest in the bowl’s nine-year history. The entire upper level at Qualcomm was empty.
It is the first of three football games in five days hosted at the Q. Next up is Sunday’s Chargers game against Kansas City, followed by the Holiday Bowl on Monday.