Final: Marshall 45, Tulsa 34
TULSA, Okla. — Marshall University’s football team was in a tailspin in the second half Thursday night and Thundering Herd players looked to the heavens in search of what they needed to do.
Playing on the anniversary of the Nov. 14, 1970 plane crash and with 75 victims of the tragedy as motivation, the Herd got on the right path and pulled out a victory.
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato hit Tommy Shuler with an 18-yard touchdown pass to give Marshall the lead and Ra’Shawde Myers sacked Tulsa’s Dane Evans on a 4th-and-11 late in a 45-34 victory in front of 16,723 spectators at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Myers’ sack led to an Essray Taliaferro 1-yard touchdown run that capped the scoring before true freshman Tiquan Lang intercepted Evans on the next drive to give the Herd its first-ever win over the Golden Hurricane.
The Herd scored the final 14 points, which changed momentum like the teams changed fields.
It was Cato who provided the calming force late, spreading the ball around well to receivers and pushing the team downfield through the passing game for scores. The junior finished 33 of 58 passing with a career-high 456 yards and five touchdowns.
After Marshall took a 17-point lead into the locker room at halftime, the Herd fumbled the football four times in the second half and Tulsa scored 20 consecutive points to take a 34-31 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard field goal by Carl Salazar.
Tulsa linebacker Shawn Jackson led the Golden Hurricane defensive charge with two fumble recoveries in the third quarter that led to 10 points.
The onslaught of Marshall turnovers began on the second play of the second half when Cato was sacked and Tulsa recovered to set up 3-yard score by Dane Evans. That started a string of four possessions when the Herd had three turnovers and an 18-yard punt as Tulsa methodically got back into the contest.
Trey Watts’ 1-yard touchdown run brought the Golden Hurricane within 31-28 before Salazar’s first field goal of the day from 29 yards knotted the score, 31-31, with 4:43 left in the third.
It was a dramatic turn of events, considering the way Marshall started the game.
Behind Cato, the Herd jumped out to a three-score lead in the first 10 minutes of play.
Cato found Shuler on a 28-yard score to start the scoring before going long to hit Devon Smith on a 44-yard bomb after the Herd defense forced a Tulsa three-and-out.
Marshall’s defense got another stop as Tulsa struggled to move the ball in the wind. Cato then led an 11-play, 70-yard drive capped by Gator Hoskins’ 22-yard TD catch to make it 21-0 with 5:21 left in the first quarter.
It appeared the Herd would increase the lead, but Cato threw the first red zone interception of his career to Tulsa’s Shawn Jackson.
Tulsa turned the play into momentum, scoring the next 14 points. Watts capped a 93-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to get the Golden Hurricane on the board.
After forcing a punt, Evans found Thomas Roberson on a 27-yard touchdown play to bring Tulsa back within a score.
However, the Herd answered as Steward Butler ripped off runs of 13, 10, 11 and 27 consecutively before Hoskins caught his second TD of the contest to push the lead to 28-14.
The Herd later tacked on a 31-yard field goal by Justin Haig following a Tulsa turnover. On the defensive play, Gary Thompson stripped receiver Jordan James and the ball landed in the arms of Neville Hewitt to set up the short field for the Herd.
MAR: Tommy Shuler 28-yard TD pass from Rakeem Cato (Justin Haig kick), 12:21.
MAR: Devon Smith 44-yard TD pass from Rakeem Cato (Justin Haig kick), 10:16.
MAR: Gator Hoskins 22-yard TD pass from Rakeem Cato (Justin Haig kick), 5:21.
TUL: Trey Watts 1-yard TD run (Carl Salazar kick), 12:11.
TUL: Thomas Roberson 26-yard TD pass from Dane Evans (Carl Salazar kick), 7:30.
MAR: Gator Hoskins 6-yard TD pass from Rakeem Cato (Justin Haig kick), 4:48.
MAR: Justin Haig 31-yard FG, :28
TUL: Dane Evans 3-yard TD run (kick blocked), 12:44.
TUL: Trey Watts 1 run (Thomas Roberson pass from Trey Watts), 8:01.
TUL: Carl Salazar 29-yard FG, 4:43.
TUL: Carl Salazar 30-yard field goal, 12:27.
MAR: Tommy Shuler 19-yard TD pass from Rakeem Cato (Justin Haig kick), 3:47.
MAR: Essray Taliaferro 1-yard TD run (Justin Haig kick), 2:45.
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