(Saturday, December 26th)
Final Score: Marshall 21, Ohio 17
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Martin Ward ran for two touchdowns and Andre Booker returned a punt for a score, as Marshall withstood a second-half surge by Ohio to take a 21-17 victory in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Ward had 72 of the 190 total rushing yards compiled by the Thundering Herd (7- 6), who were playing in their first bowl game since 2004. Darius Marshall added 77 yards on the ground, while Brian Anderson was an efficient 12-of-17 passing for 85 yards.
DeQuan Bembry also had an interception in the final minute to secure the victory, which clinched the first winning season for Marshall since 2003, before the school joined Conference USA.
Prior to that, the Thundering Herd played in the Mid-American Conference with Ohio (9-5), and have dominated the series lately. Marshall has won five in a row, as well as nine of the last 10 meetings dating back to 1988.
Theo Scott threw for 111 yards on 14-of-26 completions, with one score and one interception, for the Bobcats, who accumulated just 123 net yards to end their season with a second consecutive loss.
The setback also leaves Ohio still without a bowl win, as the school had lost in its other three tries, including the GMAC Bowl in January 2007.
Marshall held a 21-7 halftime lead, but put the Bobcats at the Marshall 37 thanks to a 15-yard punt. A personal foul penalty on the Thundering Herd then put Ohio at the 22, and the Bobcats quickly moved to a first-and-goal, as Chris Garrett ran for 15 yards.
Ohio seemed to stall there and faced a third-and-goal from the eight, but Scott lofted a jump ball to the left side of the end zone, where Terrence McCrae grabbed it from behind his defender. He fell with the ball for the score, bringing Ohio within 21-14 with 7:11 left in the frame.
Ohio then blocked Marshall's punt on the ensuing series, taking over at the opposing 35. However, the Bobcats didn't gain a first down, and Matt Weller kicked a 46-yard field goal to trim their deficit to four.
Ohio advanced into Marshall territory early in the fourth quarter and had an opportunity to go in front. Taylor Price got wide open on the right side of the field by the end zone, but wide receiver LaVon Brazill overthrew him.
Weller later missed a 29-yarder, and the Bobcats didn't get into Thundering Herd territory again. A missed field goal by Marshall's Craig Ratanamorn gave the Bobcats the ball at their own 23 with 57 seconds left, but Bembry intercepted a pass from a scrambling Scott, sealing the victory.
"When it was time to make a big play everybody looked at each other like it was time to make memories," Marshall linebacker Mario Harvey said. "We kept playing hard and were really prepared just to have a little juice in us. We went out there and played hard in the fourth quarter."
Marshall went on top with a little more than a minute left in the opening quarter, when Ward burst through the line for a 12-yard score.
Then, on the last play of the frame, Booker fielded a punt, got to the left sideline and raced across the goal line for a 58-yard return, making it 14-0.
The Herd used another sustained drive in the second quarter to push the lead to 21 points, as they went 54 yards in 10 plays, the last being a two-yard push by Ward across the goal line halfway through the frame.
"I know they prepared well, I know they were in good shape, I know they wanted to win this game very badly," Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. "For whatever reason the spark wasn't there initially. I think some of that comes pressing to be perfect in a game and actually we were not."
Marshall looked to turn the game into a blowout on the next Ohio possession, as Herd defensive end Albert McClellan recovered a Bobcats fumble. But after the Herd took over at the Ohio 22, Darius Marshall fumbled on the first play, and Ohio defensive back Shannon Ballard picked it up, returning it 75 yards for a touchdown with under six minutes left in the half.
Marshall was led by interim coach Rick Minter, as Mark Snyder resigned in November. The Herd named John "Doc" Holliday as the future head coach in mid- December...As line judge, Sarah Thomas became the first woman to officiate a bowl game...Despite the loss, Ohio still leads the all-time series, which dates to 1905, by a 29-18-6 count...Marshall improved to 4-1 in this bowl, previously known as the Motor City Bowl. The Herd moved to 6-3 all-time in bowl games.
12/26 23:06:08 ET