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DETROIT (Sports Network) - Jack Griffin kicked a 34-yard field goal on the final play, capping FIU's first postseason game with a thrilling 34-32 win over Toledo at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Terrance Owens scored on a 14-yard run with 1:14 left in the game, and his two-point conversion pass to Eric Page boosted Toledo to a 32-31 lead.
FIU faced a 4th-and-17 from its 41, but ran a hook-and-ladder play with Jacob Younger lateraling to T.Y. Hilton for a first down. Hilton tight-roped along the right sideline, but a video review call confirmed Hilton held the ball barely across the marker.
A 20-yard pass from Wesley Carroll to Greg Ellingson and a five-yard run by Darriet Perry set up Griffin's perfect kick.
In just their sixth season playing in the Football Bowl Series division, the Golden Panthers (7-6) got a big boost from their defense and special teams. Hilton returned a kickoff 89 yards for a score. Kreg Brown had a pair of interceptions and Wayne Times blocked a punt leading to Griffin's 31-yard field goal late in the final quarter.
The Rockets (8-5), in their first bowl game since 2005, blew a 17-point lead.
Adonis Thomas rushed for 193 yards and a pair of scores for the Rockets, while Owens connected on 15-of-27 passes for 132 yards and a TD, but was picked off three times.
Perry gained 132 yards and scored twice, while Carroll finished 16-of-27 for 140 yards with a TD and an interception. Ellingson caught seven balls for 66 yards.
It was a thrilling fourth quarter at Ford Field with the teams combining for 21 points in the final 7:34.
Carroll found Hilton for a 10-yard score and 28-24 FIU lead. Times' blocked punt led to Griffin's 31-yarder, but Toledo came right back with Thomas converting a 4th-and-1 at the FIU 29 with a three-yard run. Two plays later, Owens was in the end zone to set up the dramatic finish.
Thomas scored on a four-yard run with under six minutes left in the opening quarter for a 7-0 Toledo lead. Thomas fumbled the ball away later in the quarter, but scored on an 87-yard jaunt just over four minutes into the second.
A short time later, Perry was in the end zone on a one-yard run. He also converted a fourth down inside the 10 with a three-yard run.
Owens found Danny Noble for a 10-yard score with nearly three minutes left until the half, expanding Toledo's lead to 21-7.
FIU failed on a fourth down pass from the Toledo 28 with a minute left in the half, and the Rockets pushed their lead to 24-7 on Bill Claus' 29-yard field goal in the third.
Hilton returned the ensuing kickoff the distance, and Brown's interception led to Perry's seven-yard TD run inside seven minutes left in the third for a 24-21 margin.