Scores
LITTLE CAESARS BOWL

Final

Marshall 21

(7-6)

Ohio 17

(9-5)

Coverage: ESPN

1:00 PM ET, December 26, 2009

1 2 3 4 T
MRSH 14 7 0 021
OHIO 0 7 10 017

Top Performers

Passing: T. Scott (OHIO) - 111 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: M. Ward (MRSH) - 9 CAR, 72 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: T. Price (OHIO) - 4 REC, 49 YDS

Marshall grabs early 21-0 lead, then holds on against Ohio

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Martin Ward's tackle-breaking run and powerful plunge along with a punt return gave Marshall a big lead over Ohio in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Did Ward think it was going to be easy?

"Yeah, pretty much," he acknowledged.

Not quite.

The Bobcats rallied to pull within four points late in the third quarter and had chances to complete the comeback in the fourth, missing a wide-open receiver on a trick play and failing to take advantage of their last two drives before losing 21-17 to Marshall on Saturday.

Fast Facts

• Marshall held on for its first winning season since 2003.

• Ohio fell to 0-4 in bowl games.

• Marshall's Martin Ward rushed for a career-high two TDs.

• The MAC has now lost 11 consecutive bowl games, dating back to the 2006 season. The last MAC team to win a bowl game was Central Michigan in the 2006 Motor City Bowl (31-14 over Middle Tennessee).

-- ESPN Stats & Information

DeQuan Bembry's interception with 40 seconds left sealed the victory for the Thundering Herd (7-6).

"It was just a relief," Bembry said.

The Bobcats (9-5) rallied with Shannon Ballard's 75-yard return off a fumble in the second quarter, Terrence McCrae's TD catch and Matt Weller's field goal.

"Our players played hard throughout the course of the second half," said Ohio coach Frank Solich, the former Nebraska coach. "But for whatever reason, we were not ready to go at the beginning of the game."

The game looked like it was going to be a rout when Ward's 2-yard run put Marshall ahead 21-0 with 7:21 left in the first half. He scored on a 12-yard run through more than a few defenders and Andre Booker had 58-yard punt return for a touchdown at the end of the quarter.

Just when it appeared to be over, Ballard returned a fumble 75 yards to give Ohio a much-needed spark. The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second half, when Theo Scott connected with McCrae on an 8-yard pass midway through the third quarter.

Weller's 46-yard field goal made it 21-17 with 4:38 left in the third.

Ohio drove to the Marshall 12 -- taking advantage of two late-hit penalties against the Herd -- but stalled and missed a field goal that would've pulled the Bobcats within a point early in the fourth quarter.

During the drive, wide receiver LaVon Brazill badly overthrew Taylor Price on a play that fooled the Herd.

"We practice that a lot, and LaVon usually puts it right on the money," Price said. "I guess he overestimated my speed or something."

The Bobcats stayed in the game despite just 123 yards of offense.

Marshall didn't exactly move up and down the field at will, but it scored enough early in the game to win.

The schools, located 82 miles apart, played 52 times between 1905 and 2004 in "The Battle for the Bell," with the trophy symbolizing the Ohio River separating Ohio and West Virginia. They hadn't played since Marshall left the Mid-American Conference for Conference USA in 2005.

The Herd was led by interim coach Rick Minter.

Mark Snyder resigned at Marshall after the season and will be replaced by West Virginia assistant coach John "Doc" Holliday, who was an assistant to Urban Meyer on Florida's 2006 national championship team.

"Probably, not many guys from our staff will be asked back," Minter said. "That's part of the business. We're not shedding tears."

Martin is excited about the team's future.

"To do this, after what we've been through in the last month, that shows you what this program is about," he said. "We did this for the seniors, but we can't stop here."

Sarah Thomas made history during the game, becoming the first woman to officiate a bowl game, according to a Little Caesars Bowl spokesman. She was the first woman to be an official for a major college football game in 2007 and is on the NFL's list of officiating prospects.

"It was an honor," Thomas said while running off the field with her colleagues after Marshall's 21-17 victory at Ford Field.

Not many people saw the game at Ford Field.

The bowl, which was known as the Motor City Bowl in its first 12 years, drew a record-low 30,311 fans. Just two years ago, more than twice as many people watched Purdue beat Central Michigan in Detroit. The game attracted fewer than 40,000 only once before when Marshall beat Louisville in 1998 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

Michigan-based Little Caesars Pizza signed a one-year contract to sponsor the bowl after General Motors and Chrysler cut ties.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MRSH
OHIO
1st Downs1510
Total Yards275123
Passing85111
Rushing19012
Penalties6-703-39
3rd Down Conversions8-163-14
4th Down Conversions0-10-1
Turnovers12
Possession36:0823:52

Passing Leaders

MarshallC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Anderson12/17855.000
OhioC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Scott14/261114.311

Rushing Leaders

MarshallCARYDSAVGTDLG
Marshall20773.9017
Ward9728.0244
OhioCARYDSAVGTDLG
Garrett10303.0015
Brazill372.3011

Receiving Leaders

MarshallRECYDSAVGTDLG
Walker4358.8013
Smith22914.5024
OhioRECYDSAVGTDLG
Price44912.3021
Goulet23316.5020

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMRSHOHIO
TD01:17Martin Ward 12 Yd Run (Craig Ratanamorn Kick) 70
TD00:00Andre Booker 58 Yd Punt Return (Craig Ratanamorn Kick) 140
SECOND QUARTERMRSHOHIO
TD07:21Martin Ward 2 Yd Run (Craig Ratanamorn Kick) 210
TD05:25Shannon Ballard 75 Yd Fumble Return (Matt Weller Kick) 217
THIRD QUARTERMRSHOHIO
TD07:11Terrence McCrae 8 Yd Pass From Theo Scott (Matt Weller Kick) 2114
FG04:38Matt Weller 46 Yd 2117