ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - As Aaron Dobson held his MVP trophy from the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg, a realization struck him - his junior season had just ended.
Upon the end of Marshall's 20-10 win Tuesday night over Florida International, Dobson becomes one of the Thundering Herd's elder statesmen, the face of what will be a very small senior class.
"We've got to be leaders," Dobson said. "I wasn't as vocal as I thought I should have been this year. I'm going to put that on myself to be more vocal and be more of a leader, and we'll see how it goes."
The 6-foot-3, 204-pound Dunbar native completed his considerable 2011 highlight reel with two touchdowns, critical catches of 31 and 35 yards within the final 30 seconds of both halves. The first allowed the Herd to get out of the first half tied at 10.
The second, on a gutsy fourth-and-5 call at the FIU 35, ended 591/2 minutes of suspense and allowed juiced-up Herd fans to start their celebration at Tropicana Field.
"I just felt at that point we needed to make a play," said Herd coach Doc Holliday. "If we throw it to that guy, he's got a shot at making one. We're not very smart, because we sure as hell don't throw it to him enough. He needs to touch it about 12 times."
Then, Holliday turned to Dobson and informed him, "Aaron, next time you're a- will touch it about 12 times."
The thing is, Dobson probably can catch a pass off his posterior. If you can snag one backhanded and pin it on your hip, as he did against East Carolina, why not?
Rakeem Cato finished 27-of-39 for 226 yards and those TD tosses to Dobson, who caught seven passes for 81 yards. Cato's ability to turn potential disasters into positive yardage occasionally frustrated the Golden Panthers.
"I thought their quarterback did a good job wiggling in and out of stuff and made some key throws that that allowed them to get some critical first downs," said FIU coach Mario Cristobal.