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Miami Captures GoDaddy.com Bowl, 35-21

MOBILE, Ala.—Austin Boucher threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns and Thomas Merriweather added 100 yards and scores on the ground to lead Miami to a 35-21 victory over Middle Tennessee Thursday night in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

The victory made the RedHawks the first team in FBS history to go from double-digits losses (1-11 in 2009) to double-digit wins (10-4 in 2010). Miami aslo finished with an eight-game turnaround, the second-best effort in FBS history.

MOBILE, Ala.—Austin Boucher threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns and Thomas Merriweather added 100 yards and scores on the ground to lead Miami to a 35-21 victory over Middle Tennessee Thursday night in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

The victory made the RedHawks the first team in FBS history to go from double-digits losses (1-11 in 2009) to double-digit wins (10-4 in 2010). Miami aslo finished with an eight-game turnaround, the second-best effort in FBS history.

Miami fell behind 7-0 late in the first quarter on an 18-yard touchdown run by Middle Tennessee's Philiip Tanner with 4:37 left in the first quarter. But Miami immediately answered back in a fashion seen many times in 2010. Boucher and Armand Robinson connected on a 70-yard catch-and-run down the sideline. It was the longest reception of Robinson's career and the longest in Miami bowl history. The play ended at the three-yard line where Merriweather took it in for the tying touchdown with 2:56 to play in the quarter. On the very next series, though, a 49-yard touchdown run by Dwight Dasher with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter gave MT a 14-7 lead.

A 40-yard pass from Boucher to Nick Harwell on the third play of the second quarter set up Merriweather's second TD run of the game, another three-yarder. That tied the score at 14-all with 13:11 remaining in the second quarter.

Miami tried to take the lead before halftime, driving into the redzone in the final minute. But an 18-yard touchdown pass to Robinson was nullified by a penalty, then Boucher suffered just his second interception of the season to end the threat.

The RedHawk defense gave Miami its first lead as true freshman Dayonne Nunley picked off Dasher's pass and ran it in from 52 yards to put Miami on top, 21-14. It was Nunley's sixth interception of the season and marked the second time in school bowl history that a pick was taken back to the endzone.

MTSU came right back on a 54-yard touchdown run by Tanner to tie the score at 21-21. The teams traded turnovers and punts before Miami started its go-ahead drive. DeMarco Paine returned a punt 44 yards to the Middle Tennessee 30. Five plays later, Chris Givens hauled in a 17-yarder with 54 seconds left in the third to put the RedHawks on top, 28-21.

As the fourth quarter began, MTSU was faced with a third-and-11 situation. Sophomore linebacker Evan Harris intercepted his sixth pass of the year, running it back 23 yards. MTSU's defense toughened, forcing a Trevor Cook 32-yard field goal attempt. The placekick was blocked and MTSU took over at the 44-yard line with 13:38 left in the game. However, Miami got the ball back quickly.

Boucher hit Givens on passes of seven and 17 yards, then connected with Nick Harwell on third-and-seven for a first down at the 8:15 mark. Three straight runs by Merriweather gave the RedHawks the ball at the two-yard line. A loss of three by Merriweather took the ball back to the five-yard line, but Boucher's five-yard touchdown pass to Harwell boosted Miami's lead to 35-21.

Interim Head Coach Lance Guidry's defensive backs then took control as cornerback D.J. Brown intercepted Dasher with 4:35 left, then safety Pat Hinkel sealed the contest with a piock in the endzne with just over two minutes to play.

Jerrell Wedge finished the game with 13 tackles, while the entire defense made three sacks and eight tackles for loss.

The RedHawks' celebration began shortly before the final whistle as Guidry was doused in Gatorade, then Boucher (Overall MVP), Merriweather (Offensive MVP), Nunley (Defensive MVP) and Paine (Special Teams MVP) collected individual awards from GoDaddy.com spokeswoman Danica Patrick.

The party spilled into the team hotel, with the RedHawks slated to depart Mobile at 11 a.m. Friday morning, arriving in Dayton around 2 p.m. The buses should arrive on campus around 3:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. 

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