And thank goodness some craziness happened late, because the second half of the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl — knotted at 10 for a quarter and a half — was turning ugly.
Penalties, turnovers, special teams miscues — it was a sloppy game.
Both defenses played well, with Marshall able to limit FIU’s star receiver T.Y. Hilton about as well as any defense has this season. Hilton left the game in the first half with what was diagnoses as a thigh bruise, but came back a short while later. Though he had 11 touches on the night and an early touchdown, it felt like Hilton’s name was rarely called when it mattered late.
Hilton didn’t help his case by coughing up the ball twice, either.
With the game so close, the outcome was decided by two crucial plays: a blocked punt by the Thundering Herd that led to a Tyler Warner field goal, and a gutsy fourth-down, 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rakeem Cato to receiver Aaron Dobson with just under a minute to play.
That sealed a 20-10 win for Marshall, which finished the season 7-6.
Speaking of Dobson, the junior had eight catches for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and perhaps gave him a boost to give his NFL aspirations a more serious look.
Likewise, FIU (8-5) has to be wondering how seriously coach Mario Cristobal is looking at the vacant Pitt job. Cristobal has been rumored to be the leading candidate for the Panthers, and an announcement was reported to come some time after tonight’s game.