Dec. 20, 2011
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A 39-yard field goal by Tyler Warner capped off a great special teams effort to lead Marshall in a 20-10 win over FIU in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
It was Marshall's second bowl victory in the last three seasons and improved the Thundering Herd (7-6) to 7-2 in all-time in bowl games.
Warner's field goal broke a 10-10 tie with 5:16 to play. It was set up by a blocked punt from Marshall sophomore Zach Dunston after FIU (8-5) faced a fourth down on its own 22-yard line. It was recovered by sophomore Billy Mitchell at the 10-yard line, but with a couple of Herd penalties, the ball was moved back to set up the game-winning kick.
Warner, a Parkersburg native, also scored Marshall's first points of the game, a 37-yard field goal.
"Tyler came through and he stuck both of those field goals when it counted," said Marshall head coach Doc Holliday. "There's not a more deserving kid on our football team than what Tyler Warner is. It's great to see him go out the right way."
Junior wide receiver Aaron Dobson caught seven passes for 84 yards and tied a bowl record with the only two touchdowns for the Herd. His first score came when Marshall trailed 10-3 late in the second quarter. It was a 31-yard catch from freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato to tie the game with 23 seconds left in the half.
His second touchdown also came with time winding down. With Marshall leading 13-10, Dobson caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Cato after facing a fourth down and seven with 30 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
"It was a great game," said Aaron Dobson who was named the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl MVP. "A hard fought game by both teams. We all came out here to play and had a fun time in Florida, but got really focused once it was game time."
Cato completed 27 of 39 pass attempts for 232 yards and two touchdowns. He had one first quarter interception, the only turnover of the game for Marshall.
"I told those guys from day one when we started preparing for this game that the ones you remember are the ones you win."
Marshall's defense surrendered just 238 total yards, the fewest by a Herd opponent this season. The defense also held FIU standout wide receiver T.Y. Hilton to 72-yards receiving and 27-yards rushing.
The Herd forced its only turnover at the most opportune time. FIU had the ball trailing 13-10 when Hilton caught a pass and was hit at the FIU 48-yard line by senior Omar Brown. The ball was jolted lose and eventually recovered by senior Rashad Jackson at the Marshall 40-yard line as the Herd took over with 4:33 to play.
Senior Tyson Gale led the Herd with 10 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
"I have a bunch of great seniors and they are the reason we won," Holliday said. "They are great kids that kept fighting and we are sure going to miss them. They laid the foundation for this program to win championships for the future. It was a great step forward today."