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Boucher, RedHawks cap big turnaround with bowl win

Jan 7, 2011 - 8:02 AM Mobile, AL (Sports Network) - Austin Boucher threw a pair of second-half touchdowns and Miami-Ohio completed one of the best turnarounds in college football history by topping Middle Tennessee, 35-21, in the Bowl.

The RedHawks (10-4), coming off a 1-11 campaign, became the first Division I program to record double-digit losses one season and double-digit wins the next.

They completed the feat without head coach Michael Haywood, who bolted for the open Pittsburgh position last month but was subsequently fired after he was arrested on charges of domestic violence.

Defensive backs coach Lance Guidry served as the interim head coach and saw Boucher throw for 289 yards with two interceptions and Thomas Merriweather rush for two scores, as the Mid American Conference champions ended the season with six straight wins.

Dwight Dasher threw four interceptions -- all in the second half -- and ended with 162 yards on 20-of-31 attempts for the Blue Raiders (6-7), who won their final three regular season games to become bowl eligible.

Chris Givens' 17-yard touchdown catch in the final minute of the third quarter gave the RedHawks a 28-21 lead.

Dasher was intercepted on the first play of the final frame, but the Blue Raiders kept it a one-possession game by blocking Trevor Cook's 32-yard field goal attempt.

Middle Tennessee proceeded to go three-and-out, and Miami held the ball for the next 6:47. Boucher found Nick Harwell for a five-yard score to cap the 11- play, 71-yard drive with 5:25 to go, and Dasher was picked off on the next two possessions to end any chance of a comeback.

Middle Tennessee's Phillip Tanner rushed for 87 yards and two TDs and got the scoring started with an 18-yard romp to paydirt with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter.

Miami responded quickly, as Armand Robinson hauled in a 70-yard pass on the third play of the next series to set up Merriweather's three-yard TD run.

Dasher then took it himself 49 yards on a quarterback draw for a 14-7 lead heading to the second stanza.

Merriweather answered with another three-yard score, and it stayed tied at the break thanks to Boucher getting intercepted deep in enemy territory in the half's final minute.

Dasher's second pass of the third quarter was well off the mark. Dayonne Nunley was there for the interception, tip-toed along the right sideline and reached the ball over the goal line while being tackled from behind for a highlight-reel 52-yard TD.

Tanner knotted things again just two snaps later, taking a handoff 54 yards for the score.

Game Notes

The RedHawks' eight-game improvement is tied with three other teams for second most in NCAA history. ..Miami, playing in its first bowl game since 2004, improved to 7-3 all-time in the postseason...Middle Tennessee is 1-2 in bowl games...This was the first meeting between the programs...Michigan State offensive coordinator and former RedHawks player Don Treadwell was named Miami's head coach last week...Dasher also rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries...Merriweather gained 100 yards on 27 totes...Boucher completed 22- of-35 attempts...Harwell led all receivers with seven catches for 86 yards.