MIAMI GARDENS – Florida State’s seniors made sure they went out with a major accomplishment Tuesday night.
Lonnie Pryor ran for a career-best 134 yards and was named the Orange Bowl's Most Outstanding Player on Tuesday.
After winning an ACC championship a month ago, FSU can add its first BCS bowl win and first 12-win season since 1999.
Lonnie Pryor had touchdown runs of 60 and 37, EJ Manuel threw for 291 yards and had a touchdown passing and rushing, and Dustin Hopkins added a field goal as the Seminoles held off Northern Illinois 31-10 in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night.
FSU (12-2) won its fifth straight bowl game – ensuring that every senior leaves Tallahassee perfect in the bowl season.
In their final night in FSU uniforms, the seniors capped their career in style. They arrived in 2008 or 2009 to a program that was getting used to 7-6 seasons and helped rebuild the Seminoles into a team that won 12 games for the first time since 1999.
FSU struggled at times to put the ball in the end zone but had 537 offensive yards, including 242 rushing yards. Pryor was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Orange Bowl after rushing for a career-high 134 rushing yards.
The Seminoles also held NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch – who had said the Huskies would wear out FSU on defense in the fourth quarter – to 15 of 41 passing for 176 yards. He also ran 23 times for 44 yards after surpassing the 100-yard mark in 12 of 13 games this season.
NIU couldn’t get going in the first half, punting six times. The Huskies were held to 110 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Lynch led NIU on an 87-yard drive in the third quarter, capped by an 11-yard pass to Martel Moore. NIU went with an onside kick and recovered, and Lynch led the Huskies down the field. But he was intercepted by junior Terrence Brooks at the FSU 14.
It was the second straight season that Brooks had a second-half interception in a bowl game. Brooks also picked off Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Reis in the win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Brooks’ interception set up Manuel’s 9-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter, which put FSU up 24-10.
Manuel was far from perfect but he completed 27 of 39 passes for 295 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene with 11 seconds left in the first half. And it capped a career in which he went 4-0 in bowl games, including 3-0 as a starter – the first FSU quarterback to achieve that mark.
Hopkins also connected on a 25-yard field goal in the third quarter to give him 88 for his career, breaking the BCS record for career field goals.