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Running back Derrick Knight is tackled by Colorado State's Benny Mastropaolo, center, and Andre Sommersell during the first quarter of the San Francisco Bowl Wednesday night.

Running back Derrick Knight is tackled by Colorado State's Benny Mastropaolo, center, and Andre Sommersell during the first quarter of the San Francisco Bowl Wednesday night.

Dec. 31, 2003

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AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - When Derrick Knight thinks of his place in Boston College history, his rushing records are only part of what thrills him. He also treasures his place in a class of seniors who changed the program.

Knight ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns and Larry Lester caught two scoring passes in Boston College's fourth straight bowl victory, 35-21 over Colorado State in the San Francisco Bowl on Wednesday night

Paul Peterson passed for 224 yards and T.J. Stancil had three interceptions for the Eagles (8-5), who finished their season on a three-game winning streak by shutting down the Rams and senior quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt.

"When we (the senior class) came in here and we were 4-7 (in 1998), we had a belief that something good was going to happen. We made it happen. It's been a phenomenal ride."

Knight, an easy choice as the offensive MVP, secured the victory on a winding 27-yard TD scamper with 9:29 to play. The Eagles' school rushing leader and his teammates finished their careers without a loss in a bowl game.

Knight finished a few yards shy of the school's single-season rushing record, but that didn't matter while his teammates handed him the bowl trophy at Pacific Bell Park.

"When we came in here and we were 4-7 (in 1998), we had a belief that something good was going to happen," Knight said. "We made it happen. It's been a phenomenal ride. The whole experience for me is mostly about the friendships I've developed. These guys are going to continue what we started here."

He'll have plenty of time to celebrate: He plans to stay in San Francisco for the East-West Shrine Game next weekend.

Boston College, the Big East representative in the second edition of this bowl, also won the Aloha, Music City and Motor City bowls during Knight's career under coach Tom O'Brien, who has led the Eagles to five straight winning seasons.

"I guess we finally matured at the end of the year," O'Brien said. "I guess right now we're the only team with four bowl wins in a row - until Oklahoma plays."

Van Pelt passed for 163 yards and ran for 65 and a score despite sitting out the first quarter for the Mountain West representative Rams (7-6), who fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter and never recovered.

"You don't mind if you're down seven, maybe 14 in the first quarter - but 21, that's on me," coach Sonny Lubick said. "We weren't ready to play. Their running back just came out of there with a well-deserved trophy. He's a tough young guy who runs hard, and I felt all along the offensive line was the strength of their football team."

Douglas Goodwin tackles Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt after Van Pelt scrambled for a 9-yard gain during the second quarter.

Van Pelt, the Rams' hard-running quarterback, played his final college game with a 2?-inch titanium rod in his broken throwing hand, but his aggressive style was mostly ineffective against BC's sturdy defense. He threw three interceptions, and backup Jesse Holland threw two more.

David Anderson had a career-high 10 catches for 134 yards, setting Colorado State's single-season records for receptions and yards. He also made a 40-yard TD catch midway through the third quarter, briefly pulling the Rams to 21-14.

Stancil, a junior safety, had just one interception in his college career before tying the school single-game record with three. His third pick set up Lester's second TD catch with 12:31 left.

The game matched the top offenses from the schools' respective conferences, but Colorado State had difficulty making big plays. Boston College made enough big plays in the first and fourth quarters to secure an easy victory.

The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, with Knight rushing for two short scores. Lester also caught a 50-yard TD pass from Peterson.

Van Pelt's hand, broken in the regular-season finale, apparently swelled up enough to convince coach Sonny Lubick to sit out his star - and Van Pelt hurt his other hand during the game. The Rams were in trouble by the time Lubick put Van Pelt in, even though Holland completed six of his seven passes.

Van Pelt immediately engineered a 68-yard scoring drive, with Green rushing for a 7-yard score.

Dexter Wynn, the Rams' feared kick return specialist, made his first reception of the season during a later drive, but it ended with Stancil's second interception in the end zone.

Boston College had several thousand vocal supporters in the stands at Pacific Bell Park on a surprisingly warm night on San Francisco's waterfront. The Eagles gathered in front of the school band afterward, raising their helmets to wild cheers.

The San Francisco Bowl is sponsored by Diamond Walnut.

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