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Aaron Dobson's 'Catch' is one of ESPN's top plays of the year

Jan. 03, 2012 @ 08:28 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Shortly after Aaron Dobson put the exclamation point on a beautifully executed 31-yard fade to the short left area of the end zone in Tropicana Field, the ESPN cameras panned to the Marshall University bench.

With the zoom on Dobson, the junior receiver gave a nod.

But Tron Martinez, sitting to Dobson's left, wanted some face-time too.

"We going to the ESPYs," the Thundering Herd sophomore running back shouted.

Martinez's announcement wasn't for what just happened in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. Sure, Dobson had just gathered another highlight to put in his 2011 season memory book.

But it certainly wasn't his best.

Martinez was referencing another catch -- "The Catch."

On Nov. 26, Dobson made it, nabbing a Rakeem Cato 13-yard touchdown toss with his backhand as East Carolina's Derek Blacknall was grabbing his other one.

Once the eye-popping, head-scratching, logic-defying snag went viral, it was an instant hit.

All over YouTube. All over ESPN SportsCenter.

On Saturday, 36 days after the legend began, "The Catch" got its proper due.

Counting down its "Top Plays of 2011," ESPN put Dobson's at No. 2, ranking behind a 67-yard, nine-tackle breaking, powerful touchdown run by the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch on Jan. 8 against the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

So, is an ESPYs trip next?

"I mean definitely," Dobson said in early December. "If I can get there, yeah, I can definitely have a good time there."

The ESPY Awards, ESPN's celebration and recognition of the year in sports, will be held July 11, 2012, in the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

If Dobson should be nominated, it wouldn't be the first time a Marshall player was in such a spotlight.

An injured Byron Leftwich being carried down the field by his offensive linemen at Akron on Nov. 2, 2002, was up for the ESPYs' "Best Moment," but lost to tennis player Pete Sampras dramatically defeating Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open.

Should "The Catch" reach that status or not, it was definitely the most memorable play from the Herd's 2011 season, which ended with a 20-10 win over Florida International on Dec. 20 in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla.

To recap, here are what individuals have said about "The Catch":

Dobson: "It was crazy. The ball was in the air and I knew I had to make a play on it. He (Blacknall) was kind of in front of me. The ball was kind of over there and I tried to go behind his back with two hands and he grabbed my left arm. And it just stuck to my hand and I just brought it in. It was crazy."

Cato: "I've never seen anything like that in my life, from the NFL or anybody. ... I just threw it up for grabs hoping he would come down with it. The only time I thought he was going to drop it was when he came fully down."

MU head coach Doc Holliday: "I don't know, in my 30 years of coaching, if I've ever seen a catch like that. ... You watched Randy (Moss) here for a couple of years, but I've never seen a catch like that and I've coached some pretty daggone good ones."

Aaron Taylor, CBS College Sports color analyst who was calling the game: "Maybe the best catch I've seen all year."

Lou Holtz, former Notre Dame coach and current ESPN analyst: "Never have I seen a better one."

Mark May, ESPN analyst: "Randy Moss-esque."




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