6:30 PM ET, December 23, 2004
Nippert Stadium, CINCINNATI, OH
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Gino Guidugli's swollen right hand hurt every time he threw a pass. The broken bones and bitterly cold weather combined to make for a difficult night.
It was worth every second of pain for the Cincinnati quarterback.
Guidugli, who missed the regular-season finale because of his injury, returned to throw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in a 32-14 win over Marshall in the Fort Worth Bowl on Thursday night.
"It was my last game, so I was going to try to grit it out and drive through the pain," Guidugli said. "You only play your last game once."
Wearing a padded glove on his throwing hand, which he injured in a fall outside his home Nov. 20, Guidugli completed 24 of 36 passes in the first bowl win for Cincinnati (7-5) since 1997.
"Gino was putting the ball on the money," said Hannibal Thomas, who had nine catches for 102 yards. "I was excited to have him back there. He did a really good job."
Without Guidugli in their regular-season finale, the Bearcats lost 70-7 to No. 7 Louisville with two quarterbacks combining for just 33 yards.
Before that, Guidugli had thrown for 1,022 yards with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions during a four-game winning streak after Cincinnati's 2-4 start.
Marshall returned Guidugli's only interception for a score, but he rebounded to complete 10 straight passes and 14 of 16 in the second quarter. He threw both TDs in that stretch to put the Bearcats ahead to stay.
"It was frustrating out there, it seemed like every time we got close to Guidugli, he either scrambled or got rid of the ball," said Marshall defensive end Johnathan Goddard, unable to add to his NCAA-leading total of 16 sacks. "Most of his throws were on three steps, so he got rid of the ball fast."
Cincinnati finished with a winning record for first-year coach Mark Dantonio, the former Ohio State defensive coordinator. The bowl was their last game as a Conference USA member before moving to the Big East next season.
"This is a great springboard into the Big East," said Dantonio, hired by Cincinnati a year ago Thursday.
Marshall (6-6), moving next year to C-USA from the Mid-American Conference, had its streak of 20 straight winning seasons ended.
The Thundering Herd had won five straight bowl games, but had a season-low 134 yards. Stan Hill completed 14 of 30 passes for 137 yards and a TD to go with minus-3 yards rushing for his team.
"We got beat on both sides of the line. I don't know what happened," coach Bob Pruett said. "I wish I had more answers, but they really took it to us."
Adjusting to the glove on his hand, Guidugli struggled early Thursday. He was 1-for-4 with his first interception in 145 passes, returned 32 yards by Willie Smith to give Marshall a 14-10 lead at the end of first quarter.
Guidugli completed his next 10 passes, all six on the drive that ended with a 15-yard TD to tight end Brent Celek for a 17-14 lead.
The Bearcats had the ball once more before halftime, an 87-yard drive during which Guidugli had a pair of 20-yard completions before an 8-yard TD to Earnest Jackson with 18 seconds left.
Guidugli's school-record 26th TD pass was a lame duck, thrown with a rusher in his face, but Jackson caught it between two defenders. Greg Cook had 25 TD passes for the Bearcats in 1968.
The only scoring after that came in the fourth quarter. Kevin Lovell kicked the last two of his three field goals and Cincinnati blocked its second punt, with Marshall punter Ian O'Connor falling on it in the end zone for a safety.
The Bearcats led 7-0 before Guidugli even stepped on the field.
Tyjuan Hagler blocked the first punt just a minute into the game. Antwuan Giddens returned it 9 yards for the touchdown.
Guidugli's only completion in the first quarter was a 20-yarder to Thomas after Andre Frazier recovered Hill's fumble at the Herd 27. Cincinnati didn't get another first down, and settled for Lovell's 23-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
Marshall's John Davis had five catches for 67 yards, increasing his career mark to 306. That is second on the NCAA list to 309 by Purdue's Taylor Stubblefield, who can increase his total in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
The temperature at kickoff was 28 degrees, with a wind chill of 17 that dropped throughout the game. The announced crowd was 13,204, less than half of the tickets distributed for the bowl sponsored by PlainsCapital.
|3rd Down Conversions||4-14||11-19|
|4th Down Conversions||2-3||2-3|
|TD||14:00||ANTWUAN GIDDENS 9 YD BLOCKED PUNT RETURN (KEVIN LOVELL KICK)||0||7|
|FG||6:23||KEVIN LOVELL 23 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 21 yards.
|TD||1:00||JOSH DAVIS 14 YD PASS FROM STAN HILL (IAN O'CONNOR KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||0:16||WILLIE SMITH 32 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (IAN O'CONNOR KICK)||14||10|
|TD||4:31||BRENT CELEK 15 YD PASS FROM GINO GUIDUGLI (KEVIN LOVELL KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 56 yards.
|TD||0:18||EARNEST JACKSON 8 YD PASS FROM GINO GUIDUGLI (KEVIN LOVELL KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 87 yards.
|FG||10:50||KEVIN LOVELL 19 YD FG|
Drive info: 18 plays, 61 yards.
|FG||4:59||KEVIN LOVELL 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 32 yards.