Now, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year will take
his act to the NFL.
"He's going to make somebody a winner, because he is a
winner," coach Chuck Amato said after the Wolfpack routed Kansas
56-26 in the Tangerine Bowl on Monday night. "He's been that way
since the day he showed up to our campus."
Rivers threw for Tangerine Bowl records of 475 yards and five
touchdowns, and T.A. McLendon scored three touchdowns to help the
Wolfpack (8-5) rebound from a two-game losing streak that cost them
a trip to a bigger bowl.
The Wolfpack amassed 653 yards, including 30 plays of at least
"You never do know if you're going to blow the doors wide open
and just be hitting on everything," Rivers said. "But we felt
coming in there were going to be some opportunities for big plays.
We felt there were a lot of holes right behind the linebackers.
That's where we attacked, and it got us rolling."
North Carolina State marched 64, 68 and 97 yards on its first
three possessions to build a 21-7 lead. Rivers led an 88-yard drive
in the third quarter, then broke the game open by taking advantage
of a blocked punt to put the Wolfpack up 42-17.
Richard Washington scored on receptions of 45 and 14 yards, and
Jerricho Cotchery had 13 catches for 171 yards and one TD. McLendon
got into the end zone three times, scoring on a 3-yard reception
and runs of 1 and 26 yards.
Amato didn't remove Rivers until midway through the fourth
quarter after his final completion gave him the Tangerine Bowl
Kansas coach Mark Mangino didn't feel the Wolfpack showed up the
Jayhawks be continuing to throw with a 30-point lead.
"I'm of the school of thought that you never run it up,"
Mangino said. "If you can't stop them, too bad."
Rivers, the ACC's career passing and total offense leader, was
21-of-24 for 268 yards and three TDs in the first half alone. He
finished 37-of-45 for his fifth 400-yard game this season, and
The 6-foot-5, 236-pound senior has been the starting quarterback
for every game the Wolfpack have played under Amato, the former
Florida State assistant who has taken his team to a bowl game in
each of his four seasons.
"Nobody will replace Philip," Amato said. "It took 40 years
to replace Roman Gabriel. I hope it doesn't take 40 to replace
Philip. But it might when you put his total package into it."
Kansas (6-7) fell short in its bid to finish with its first
winning record since 1995, the last time the Jayhawks appeared in a
The senior quarterback -- who led the Jayhawks to a 5-2 start
before missing nearly four games, all Kansas losses -- also scored
on a 9-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
The game was billed as a potential offensive shootout, and
Rivers and Whittemore didn't disappoint bowl sponsors who savored
the matchup of teams with explosive attacks and defenses that
struggled to contain opponents all season.
Kansas, which allowed an average of 392.6 yards and 28.3 points
this year, yielded more 40 points for the fifth time.
North Carolina State had a typical night on defense, too, giving
up 463 yards after allowing gave up 417.5 yards and just under 30
points per game during the regular season.