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Sarah Thomas Becomes First Woman To Referee College Football Bowl Game

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DETROIT — Sarah Thomas made history at the Pizza Bowl on Saturday, becoming the first woman to officiate a bowl game when she worked the matchup between Ohio and Marshall.

Thomas is one of five women officiating in major college football, but Pizza Bowl spokesman Tim Moore said she was the first to draw an assignment for a Bowl Subdivision postseason game.

"It was an honor," Thomas said while running off the field with her colleagues after Marshall's 21-17 victory at Ford Field.

Thomas' position as line judge meant that she spent most of the game in front of the Thundering Herd's bench, but the Marshall players didn't pay much attention.

"I noticed her before the game, but that was it," said Marshall running back Martin Ward, the game's MVP. "Once the game started, she was just doing the job that the line judge does in every game we play. It didn't matter that she was a woman at all."

Thomas became the first woman to be an official for a major college football game in 2007 and is on the NFL's list of officiating prospects. The married mother of two young sons is from Brandon, Miss., and is a pharmaceutical representative.

"She did a good job," Marshall coach Rick Minter said. "I didn't know she was the first woman to work a bowl game, so what an honor to say I was on the same sideline as she was. And, it's kind of neat that Pam Ward was doing this game on TV for ESPN."

Terri Valenti is believed to be the first woman to officiate a professional game. She was the head linesman earlier this year in a United Football League game.

Thomas is a wife and also a mother to two young boys, according to an interview with the referee that was uploaded to DailyMotion in August 2009.

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