Cincinnati claims win in Fort Worth Bowl
Friday, December 24, 2004
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Gino Guidugli returned from a broken throwing hand and passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati's 32-14 win over Marshall in the Fort Worth Bowl on Thursday night.
Wearing a padded glove on his still very swollen right hand, which he injured on Nov. 20, Guidugli completed 24 of 36 passes on a bitterly cold night.
After his only interception, which Marshall returned for a score, Guidugli completed 10 straight passes and 14 of 16 in the second quarter. He threw both TD passes in that stretch to put Cincinnati (7-5) ahead to stay.
The Bearcats overcame a 2-4 start to finish 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.
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, which had won five straight bowl games, 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.
Kevin Lovell kicked three field goals (23, 19 and 35 yards) and Hannibal Thomas had nine catches for 102 yards for Cincinnati.
Guidugli missed the regular-season finale after he broke two bones in his hand in a fall outside his home. Without him, 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.
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. Lovell kicked his last two 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.
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.