By NATHAN DEENNovember 2, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 31, 2012) -- Fort Benning head coach Jason Gibson said his leaders stepped up Thursday as the Doughboys defeated the Columbus State Cougars, 32-16, in the third annual Doughboy Bowl, and finished their second season at 3-3.
In front of a nearly filled Doughboy Stadium, Fort Benning quarterback Matt Makaryk threw for a season-high four touchdown passes, while running back Charles Bigham racked up 121 yards on the ground.
"It's exactly how I wanted to go out," Makaryk said. "I did what I wanted to do and went out on a high note. We wanted to go undefeated, that was our first goal, but that didn't happen. Our next goal was to win the Doughboy Bowl."
Makaryk threw as many as six interceptions in one game this season, but put his struggles behind him Thursday. He finished with 178 yards and had just one pick, which Gibson still got on to him about.
"I still gave him a hard time about the interception," Gibson said. "It's good for him. We have a long history and to see him finish with some success like this … it just makes you proud for him."
Makaryk said the most memorable play of the season came in the third quarter when he threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Mario Johnson -- a corner fade that landed perfectly over Johnson's shoulders, who caught it in stride.
"I had wanted to do that all year, but it never worked out," Makaryk said. "The timing wasn't quite right. Something was always off."
Makaryk excelled in the first half, but the passing game dropped off in the second half for the Doughboys. Fortunately, Bigham started finding holes in the defense and gashed the Cougars with five runs of over 10 yards.
"Our quick trap play kept working," Bigham said. "Once they stopped blitzing from the inside and started blitzing from the outside, that opened the middle and I just took advantage of those holes."
The fact that Bigham even played Thursday looked improbable a month ago when he sprained his MCL on Sept. 30 at Faulkner University.
"I rehabbed hard on this knee to be able to come back for this game," he said. "It felt amazing. I thought my season was over, but after the second or third day … my physical therapist said, 'I don't think your knee is torn.' It just gave me confidence to keep working and stay healthy. To be able to make an impact for the team makes it more worth it."
Wide receiver Patrick Barnes also had a notable performance with six receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
The Doughboys spread the field and opened the passing game much more than they had in their previous five games.
"I was a little shocked by the passing game," Gibson said. "We threw it a little more tonight and just cut it loose. Matt made three or four throws that weren't part of the play. He just made them and that was the difference in the game."
The crowd was also a factor, Gibson said, as the playing of the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band and the cheering of the Soldiers gave his players a swagger he hadn't seen before.
It was louder to him on Thursday than two years ago when the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team played CSU in the first Doughboy Bowl, he said.
"I think it helped us win the game," he said.