MOBILE, Ala. – Austin Boucher threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns in his fourth career start and Miami of Ohio capped a historic turnaround season with a 35-21 win Thursday night over Middle Tennessee in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
The RedHawks (10-4) are the first team in Football Bowl Subdivision history to win 10 games one season after losing at least 10. Miami finished a dismal 1-11 in 2009, but recovered to win the Mid-American Conference title and finish this season on a six-game winning streak.
MTSU (6-7) won three games in a row to become bowl eligible, but was hurt by five turnovers.
Miami’s Dayonne Nunley was responsible for two of them, recovering a fumble and returning an interception 52 yards for a touchdown. Thomas Merriweather rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
MTSU’s Dwight Dasher threw four interceptions – all in the second half.
It was a sweet ending for the RedHawks, especially considering there was plenty of adversity along the way. Miami played its first bowl since 2004 without coach Mike Haywood, who accepted the head coaching job at Pittsburgh in December. Haywood has since been fired from Pitt after being arrested on a felony domestic violence charge. On Monday, a magistrate entered a not guilty plea for Haywood on the felony charge.
Lance Guidry, Miami’s defensive backs coach the past two seasons, served as interim head coach.
The RedHawks also lost starting quarterback Zac Dysert to a lacerated spleen in November, but Boucher kept the offense going. He wasn’t perfect, throwing two interceptions, but completed 22 of 35 passes, including several clutch throws to keep drives alive.
Thomas Merriweather rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Harwell caught seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Miami outgained MTSU 416-370.
MTSU’s Dasher was stellar in the first half, accounting for 158 total yards, including a 49-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter that gave the Blue Raiders a short-lived 14-7 lead.
But the senior struggled in the second half, throwing four interceptions.
Dasher threw for 162 yards and rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown while Phillip Tanner rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Miami took the lead for good late in the third quarter, when Boucher hit Chris Givens for a 17-yard touchdown pass, pushing the score to 28-21.