FINAL: FIU loses Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl 20-10 to Thundering Herd

Photo Courtesy of Shawn Stevens

Photo Courtesy of Shawn Stevens

By Jackson Wolek/ Staff Writer

The last image FIU fans will have of T.Y. Hilton in college football is one of a fumble. Hilton, who head coach Mario Cristobal says was the face of the program and will be playing on Sundays, will no longer suit up for FIU.Unlike their first bowl game last year, the Panthers couldn’t find any fourth quarter magic, failing to score in the second half. FIU fell short to Marshall 20-10 in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.The Panthers held Marshall in check defensively for more than three-and-a-half quarters,  but it all fell apart after a blocked punt that set up a go-ahead field goal. In the attempt of the the comeback, Hilton dropped the ball.

“Unfortunately, I came up short for them, and I feel sorry for them, but you know I’m going to miss them,” said Hilton about his teammates after the game.

His fumble led to a 35-yard catch by MVP of the game Aaron Dobson with 30 seconds to go to seal the deal and crown Marshall Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl Champions.

“He’s never let anybody down, this young man is the best I’ve ever been around and so many times he’s done a great job, as you can see he’s limping away with two injuries, nothing too bad but that guy just finds a way to step up and make plays for this team,” Cristobal said in backing up Hilton.

The game was a defensive struggle, a battle that saw both sides digging for points. After the game, a skirmish broke out between two players from both teams, but cooled down rather quickly.

“It looked like two guys were kind of tangled up and the rest were just guys coming and meeting at the field,” said head coach Mario Cristobal. “ I think both coaching staffs did a good job of controlling the guys and their emotions.”

The Panthers are now 1-1 in the short bowl history, and must say goodbye to T.Y. Hilton, who was named team MVP for the losing side. The senior, who etched his name in nearly all of FIU’s record books, had eight catches for 88 yards and rushed for 23 yards on three carries for a lone touchdown, his last in a Panther uniform.

“It feels great to be able to accomplish that but I can’t do it without my teammates, they did a lot of different things and helped me this whole year and helped me accomplish a lot,” said Hilton.

The Herd were able to strike first on their second drive of the game when freshmen quarterback Rakeem Cato found Jermaine Kelson for 25 yards on third down to set up a 37-yard field goal from Tyler Warner to give the Herd an early lead.

Late in the first quarter, Richard Leonard intercepted Cato’s first pass after to set up the Panthers near midfield.

The Panthers did not squander the opportunity.

T.Y. Hilton made his name trend worldwide on twitter when he dashed in to the endzone for a 2-yard touchdown to give FIU a 7-3 lead.

The second quarter brought upon a reversal of scores as the defenses continued to hold each other at bay. FIU was not able to score again until 9:19 into the second quarter when Jack Griffin provided a 46-yard field goal to build the lead up to 10-3

The Panther defense only gave up 90 yards of offense in the quarter, but with 29 seconds to go in the half, Cato connected with Aaron Dobson in the endzone on a 31-yard bomb to send the game into halftime tied 10-10.

“Dobson made a heck of a catch,” said Cristobal. “We had great pressure, but it was a great throw at the end of the half.”

Neither offense could find a way to crack the opposing defense in the third quarter, as they combined to punt five times. The inefficiency on offense prompted Cristobal to make a change in the fourth, and go with redshirt freshmen quarterback Jake Medlock.

“We were looking for a spark, you know we got two real good young men in those quarterbacks and those decisions there not fun to make but you have to make them,” Cristobal said.

The change only lasted one possession though, and Cristobal quickly brought Carroll back out for the rest of the game.

More than halfway through the fourth quarter, the Panthers began to lose grasp of the game.

Marshall, which had six blocks on special teams this year, got a hold of a Josh Brisk punt at the FIU 22-yard line that allowed them to set up for a 39-yard field goal with over five minutes remaining.

Hilton turned the ball right back over on the next drive when he fumbled a first-down catch at the Marshall near midfield. Marshall came right back to officially put the game out of reach when Cato connected with Dobson for the second time in the endzone.

“[It was a] young man trying to make a good play trying to do his assignment. [I] don’t want to throw him under the bus; [we’ve] just got to execute,” Cristobal said about the blocked punt.

Cristobal had been rumored to have interviewed for the head coaching job at Pittsburgh, the same one he interviewed for last year, and also thought of as the front runner. After the game, he declined to comment on whether he would be at FIU next year.

“It’s not in my policy to talk about anything that’s going on outside of this program,” Cristobal said in Spanish.