Marshall QB Rakeem Cato had 5 TDs as the Thundering Herd blew out Northern Illinois to win the first ever Boca Raton Bowl.
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The Marshall Thundering Herd defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies 52-23 to win the first ever Boca Raton Bowl.
Marshall suffered a scare early when the Huskies scored early in the first quarter on a TD pass from QB Drew Hare to Juwan Brescacin on a badly-blown coverage, but on the ensuing kickoff Marshall KR DeAndre Reaves took the ball 93 yards to the house for a game-tying score. And from there everything fell into place for the Thundering Herd. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato scored his first of 5 total TDs on the day on a 5-yard run to give Marshall a 14-7 lead – a lead it would not surrender for the rest of the game.
In the second quarter Marshall began pulling away, first on an exchange of FGs between the two teams before star RB Devon Johnson scored his first TD of the day on a 2-yard run to give Marshall a 24-13 halftime lead.
In the second half, Cato turned what was a close game into a complete rout, first with a TD pass to WR Tommy Shuler (who had a whopping 18 catches for 185 yards on the day). Two minutes later the Huskies answered with a 24-yard TD run by Cameron Stingily to make the score 31-20.
But Cato could not be stopped as he threw two more TD passes between the 3rd and 4th quarters – one to Angelo Jean-Louis and one to Deon-Tay McManus – to give the Thundering Herd a 45-20 lead with 12:32 left in the game. All the Huskies were able to do was tack on a FG in the fourth quarter. With 4:24 left in the game Marshall sealed the win on a 4-yard run by Cato to give them the final score of 52-23 and win the first ever Boca Raton Bowl.
930 yards of total offense were gained in this game and no turnovers. Both teams ran upwards of 75 plays per game, but ultimately Marshall was much more efficient on yards/play and on third down efficiency.
The stars of the game were RB Devon Johnson, who finished with 15 carries for 131 yards and of course Rakeem Cato, who finished his career at Marshall as the school’s all-time leading passer and now owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a TD pass.
And with the win the Marshall Thundering Herd win their 9th bowl game in school history and secure their 2nd 13-win season in team history. At 13-1, it is the second highest winning percentage in school history.