The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 27, 2011

Moss-like catch for Dobson

HUNTINGTON — Aaron Dobson pulled the words “Randy Moss” out of many a Marshall fan’s lips Saturday evening.

His baffling one-handed — not to mention back-handed — touchdown catch late in the first half of a 34-27 overtime win over East Carolina was worthy of comparison to the former Thundering Herd star. It might have outdone any Moss highlight, even the play against Army in which he leaped over a defender after the catch.

“I heard that a lot on the field after the game,” Dobson said. “I’ve just got to thank the man above, definitely.”

The pass from freshman quarterback Rakeem Cato had the look of an interception before Dobson plucked it away. The ball appeared to stick to Dobson’s right hand as if it were glued.

“I just threw my arm back and it just stuck,” he said. “I was real excited and real hyped about it. It was a lot of fun out there.”

Dobson said he planned on making a more conventional attempt at the catch.

“I was trying to get to it with two hands, actually,” he said. “But he held my left arm. So I just had to put that one arm out and hope for the best.”

Now Dobson will be remembered for something positive rather than letting loose of the ball right before he crossed the goal line on his 98-yard touchdown catch against West Virginia last season. Fortunately, officials were nowhere near Dobson when it happened.

He also started the game with a 77-yard touchdown reception, easily beating ECU safety Damon Magazu down the left sideline.

Dobson planned on hurrying home to watch SportsCenter after the game.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen, in 30 years of coaching, a catch like that,” coach Doc Holliday said. “You’ve watched Randy here a couple years, but I’ve never seen a catch like that and I’ve coached some pretty daggone good ones.”

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The Herd (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA) should learn its bowl fate over the next two days, but a bowl game isn’t necessary to illustrate how far the team has come in Holliday’s second year.

Marshall’s one-game improvement is misleading, the head coach said.

“There has been a lot more progress than what the record shows,” he said. “I can see us growing up defensively, and the one thing we had to do was tackle (better). We did just that tonight. ... There is no doubt in my mind that we’ve significant progress.”

Holliday added the team isn’t where it wants to be — winning conference championships — although there was a remote chance of the Herd getting at least a shot of playing for one. Had Southern Miss been upset by Memphis, then Marshall would have won the East Division and would play at West champ Houston Dec. 3.

Southern Miss hammered the Tigers 44-7.

“We’re getting closer, but we won’t be satisfied until we get to that game,” Holliday said.

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Redshirt freshman Phillip Warren had an ice bag on his left arm during postgame interviews. He may have fractured his thumb — a bad break, to be sure.

But the injury didn’t keep him from a breakout game against the Pirates.

Warren had a team-high 13 tackles and forced the fumble by Derrick Harris on a kickoff that led to a 24-yard field goal by Tyler Warner.

“I just went out and played my game,” Warren said. “I did what I to do on all my assignments and gave my heart out there. ... The game had its ups and downs and we overcame adversity. Offense, defense and special teams, we all came together and pulled out this victory.”

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