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Nassau stays perfect, wins Valley of the Sun Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - Dec. 6 - No. 6 Nassau completed a perfect season Saturday with a 34-27 victory over No. 7 Scottsdale in the Valley of the Sun Bowl. The Lions end the year with a 10-0 record, finishing undefeated for the first time since 2010 when they were named the NJCAA nonscholarship national champions.

Nassau trailed 17-7 before scored 24 unanswered points to take a 31-17 lead with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter.

The defenses ruled the first quarter as both teams were held scoreless through the first 15 minutes of play. Scottsdale got on the board first with a field goal early in the second quarter. With 9:59 remaining in the half, sophomore quarterback Michael Sanders connected with sophomore wide receiver Thaddeous Thompson for a touchdown pass to extend the Fighting Artichokesí lead to 10-0.

Just over two minutes later, Nassau cut the deficit to 10-7 behind a touchdown run by freshman quarterback Anthony Cruz. Scottsdale went back up by 10 with 3:39 left in the second quarter as Sanders threw a touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Julian Navarrette for a 17-7 advantage. The Lions trimmed the lead to 17-10 before the break with a field goal.

Nassau tied the game at 17-17 three minutes into the second half when freshman Marcellus Pack returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown. Cruz punched in his second rushing touchdown of the day--this one from two yards out--with 5:50 left in the third, giving the Lions their first lead at 24-17. Nassau freshman running back Marcus Levy extended that lead to 31-17 late in the quarter with a 6-yard halfback pass to freshman tight end Ian Thomas for a touchdown.

Scottsdale put up 10 points in the fourth quarter but it wasnít enough to overcome a 34-27 defeat.

Nassauís victory marks its first bowl win since the 2001 Empire State Bowl. According to the NJCAA, the Lions have played in 18 bowl games since 1969 but have only won six prior to this victory. Scottsdale falls to 8-3 overall and is now just 1-4-1 in bowl games.