ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — After Marshall’s big-play attack built a lead, the defense held off Colorado State’s comeback to win the New Mexico Bowl 31-28.
Chase Litton threw a 76-yard pass to Tyre Brady, Keion Davis ripped off a 68-yard run and Tyler King outdistanced them both with a 90-yard burst as the Herd (8-5) won for only the second time since Oct. 20.
Colorado State (7-6) entered with the nation’s 10th-ranked offense at 501 yards per game, but that was precisely the amount Marshall posted Saturday against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains. The Rams finished with 390 yards, scoring twice in the fourth quarter before seeing their final drive end on downs shy of midfield with 1:46 remaining.
Nick Stevens threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns but completed only 25-of-52 passes and was sacked five times by the Herd. He failed to connect deep to Biletnikoff Award finalist Michael Gallup, who was held to 68 yards on six catches.
“I’ve got to hit Gallup on those shots and I think it’s a different ballgame,” Stevens said. “There were a number of them where he was open, the protection was solid and I missed him long. I didn’t feel like I was throwing them all that far, but I’ve got to give him a chance.”
Davis finished with 141 yards on 18 carries and King added 106 yards on only six attempts. Litton threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 17-of-32 performance for 262 yards. His 15-yard scoring pass to tight end Ryan Yuracheck was part of a 21-point second-quarter outburst.
The bowl’s offensive MVP Brady netted 165 yards on six catches for the Thundering Herd, who improved to 5-0 in bowl games under Doc Holliday and 11-1 all-time.
“We went out there and played for the seniors,” Brady said. “This shows what happens when you keep faith alive. Everybody doubted us and we came out and dominated both ends. The offense started us off and the defense won it in the end.”
Holliday praised his transfer receiver for delivering after a pregame illness.
“Last night at midnight, we didn’t think he was going to play today because he was so sick that he couldn’t get out of bed. He spent all night with doctors trying to get him squared away to get on the field today. What a great effort.”
Channing Hames earned Defensive MVP for the Herd with 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for a loss and two quarterback hurries.
“I think it’s the entire defense played tremendous,” Holliday said. “That’s an excellent offensive football team.”
Colorado State fell to 0-3 in bowls under Mike Bobo, who recently received a contract extension.
“I thought we were one-dimensional tonight,” Bobo said. “At the end of the day, we’re not built to throw it 52 times.”