Dwight Dasher rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 162 yards and two more touchdowns as Middle Tennessee State defeated Southern Miss 42-32 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Sunday. He also left the game twice because of an ankle injury but came back each time.
“It wasn't an `injury,’” Dasher said. “I mean, unless I would have broken something, I wasn't coming out of the game.”
Dasher threw two second-quarter touchdown passes as the Blue Raiders overcame an early 14-0 deficit. The junior quarterback then put his team ahead to stay with a 35-yard touchdown run 4:48 into the second half. His 1-yard scoring run with 1:13 to go in the contest stretched the lead to 16 points, 42-26.
He broke the record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl game. Vince Young set the previous mark of 200 in Texas’ 2006 Rose Bowl victory over USC. He also joined Young as one of only nine players ever to pass for more than 2,000 yards and to rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.
“Obviously, it was difficult stopping him,” Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. “We knew going in that he was a heck of a player, and he showed that (Sunday) night. We sent him out a great player. He single handedly did it against us.”
The victory was MTSU’s first in a postseason bowl game since the school joined the Football Bowl Subdivision. Its only other bowl appearance during that time was a 31-14 loss to Central Michigan in the 2006 Motor City Bowl.
“We fell behind 14-0 but we never quit,” MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. “… We played harder and harder as we went on. We played smart.”
Freshman running back Benjamin Cunningham, a graduate of Goodpasture School, made it 35-26 when he scored on a 1-yard run with 3:14 left in the game Linebacker Danny Carmichael intercepted a pass on the ensuing drive and set up Dasher’s final touchdown.
The Blue Raiders finished the season 10-3 overall and won their final seven games.
“Dwight was hurt a lot more than what he's letting on,” Stockstill said. “He showed a lot of toughness and competitiveness. … I thought Dwight was the perfect example of what our team stands for. That if you're hurt, if you can still walk, you're going to go out there on the next play.”