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The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl

 

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BOCA RATON, Fla.  —  The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl was set to be a great game against conference champions. Conference USA champions Marshall entered the game with a 12-1 record. Their only loss came at the hands of Western IMG_3037Kentucky in an OT thriller of 67-66. Northern Illinois, the Mid-American Conference champions, had two losses in the season but bounced back and won their last 7 games. The Huskies started the scoring in the first quarter when QB Drew Hare connected with Juwan Brescacin for 19 yards to cap a 67 yard drive. The next play proved to be costly as Deandre Reaves sprinted 93 Yards on the kickoff to tie the score 7-7. On the next drive, Neville Hewitt and Jermaine Holmes sacked Drew Hare on a third down to force the punt.  Rakeem Cato connected with one of his favorite targets, Tommy Shuler, for 14 yards twice. Tommy Shuler needed 4 catches to secure the all time record and that is what he did. He ends his career as the record holder of Single game receptions (19), Season receptions (110) , Career receptions (322) and Career receptions Conference USA record (322) . Rakeem Cato rushed for 5 yards to take the 14-7 lead. In the second quarter, Marshall added 10 more points  to Northern Illinois’ 6 points. The Huskies were not able to capitalize on being in the red zone and went in to the half down 24-13.

IMG_3042Northern Illinois was looking to give their team a spark and their onside kick was perfection. The Huskies found themselves in 4th and 1 and were stuffed.  DL James Rouse stated, “We want to stop the run and keep them in 3rd and long.” However, the defense consistently stopped them on 3rd and short. With 6:39 left in the third quarter, Rakeem Cato connected with Tommy Shuler to take a 31-13 lead. Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler have been making magic together since their high school days at the powerhouse, Miami Central.  Cameron Stingily would not let his team down and powered his way to the end zone on a 24 yard run.  The Herd stayed focus and when Angelo Jean-Louis caught the fade route from Rakeem Cato, it was evident that the game was over.
The game ended with Marshall up 52 to Northern Illinois at 23.  Rakeem Cato was 25 of 37 with 281 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He also had 2 touchdowns on the ground.  “Coach Legg had a great game plan for us,” stated Rakeem Cato.  All in all, Tommy Shuler was clearly the go to man, catching 18 of Cato’s 25 completions.

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