DETROIT (AP) — T.Y. Hilton was ready for anything when he showed up for the first bowl in Florida International's young history.
Even fourth-and-17 with time running out.
Hilton picked up a crucial first down on a desperate hook-and-ladder, and FIU stunned Toledo 34-32 with a last-second field goal Sunday night in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Jack Griffin's 34-yard kick provided the winning points, but it was Hilton's dramatic fourth-down conversion on a trick play that kept the drive alive.
"We run it every day," Hilton said. "Different guys in different positions."
"That was the prettiest one of all," coach Mario Cristobal said.
The Golden Panthers (7-6) had already rallied from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit, but the game appeared to be slipping away when Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens scored on a 14-yard run with 1:14 to play. The Rockets (8-5) then went for two, and Owens found Eric Page over the middle for a 32-31 lead.
But Hilton had already returned one kickoff for a touchdown, so Toledo went with a squib kick, giving FIU the ball near midfield. Although a sack knocked the Panthers back, they had one trick play left on fourth-and-long.
Jacob Younger caught the pass near midfield, flipped the ball to his team's top player and hoped for the best. Hilton took the lateral and dashed toward the sideline, and the officials ruled he reached the first-down marker before stepping out of bounds. The Rockets felt it was a generous spot at the Toledo 42, but the call stood after a replay review.
"That's not my judgment to make," Toledo coach Tim Beckman said. "It was checked and reviewed and off the review they said that he made it."
Wes Carroll then found Greg Ellingson for a 20-yard pass that put the Panthers firmly in field goal range. Griffin's kick came on the final play of the game.
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