Photo courtesy of Marshall Athletics
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
(Sports Network) - Aaron Dobson caught two scores and Marshall used a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter to take a 20-10 win over Florida International at the Beef O' Brady Bowl.
Dobson caught seven passes for 81 yards while Rakeem Cato went 27-for-39 for 226 yards, two scores and an interception for the Thundering Herd (7-6), who closed the season with three straight wins.
"I have a bunch of great seniors and they are the reason we won," Marshall head coach Doc 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."
Wesley Carroll went 19-for-29 with 150 yards while T.Y. Hilton had eight catches for 88 yards and three carries for 23 yards and a score for the Golden Panthers (8-5), who had won their final three games of the regular season.
"We won eight games this year. [FIU head] coach [Mario] Cristobal has done a great job with our team on and off the field," Hilton said. "There are a lot of great players and we have made great strides and come a long way over the last four years."
The game had been tied since halftime and neither offense was able to get anything going in the second half, but Marshall got a play from its special teams late in the fourth.
On a punt attempt, Josh Brisk came down with the high snap, but didn't have enough time to get it away and Marshall blocked the kick. The ball was scooped up and taken near the end zone, but the ball came away and a Marshall player jumped on the ball for the apparent score.
However, it was ruled an illegal forward pass and a personal foul call on Marshall resulted in the team getting the ball at the Florida International 23. Four plays later, Tyler Warner booted a 39-yard field goal that just kissed off the right upright for a 13-10 lead with 5:16 left.
Hilton fumbled a catch three plays after the Panthers got the ball back and Marshall recovered with 4 1/2 minutes to play in the game.
The team faced a 4th-and-5 with from the 35 with 38 seconds left. After a timeout, Cato hit Dobson for the score to seal the victory.
"It was a great game," said Dobson. "A hard fought game by both teams."
After an exchange of punts to start the game, Marshall got on the board with a Warner 37-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 6:37 left in the first. The big play of the nine-play, 45-yard drive was a 25-yard catch from Jermaine Kelson on 3rd-and-8.
The Golden Panthers went three-and-out, but Richard Leonard picked off Cato on the first play to give the team the ball back near midfield. On 3rd-and-6 at the 16, Carroll hit Hilton for 14 yards and the following play saw Hilton go into the end zone around the right side for a 7-3 lead with 1:31 left in the first.
In the second starting at its own 35, FIU went on an eight-play drive that garnered only 36 yards, but it was enough for Jack Griffin to kick a 46-yard field goal with 5:41 to play.
Getting the ball back near midfield with 1:38 left before halftime, the Thundering Herd were able to tie the game as Cato lofted a pass down the left sideline and a well-covered Dobson came down with the ball for a 31-yard score with 23 seconds showing on the first-half clock.
The third quarter featured nothing but punts as the longest drive of the frame went seven plays.