Herd holds off Tigers, 38-28
HUNTINGTON — It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Marshall University’s football team got a much-needed home victory Saturday afternoon at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Marshall nearly squandered a 24-point second-half lead, but got a timely sack from Cortez Carter to end a comeback attempt by Memphis in the Thundering Herd’s 38-28 win.
Rakeem Cato finished the game 34 of 44 passing for 341 yards and four touchdowns, including the Herd’s biggest play — a 28-yard touchdown pass to Davonte Allen on fourth down that set the final score prior to Carter’s sack.
Marshall led 31-7 before Memphis scored 21 unanswered points to pull within three points with 9:56 left in the game.
After a 1-yard touchdown pass from Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam to Jesse Milleson made it 31-14, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty placed the ball at the 50-yard line for the kickoff.
Memphis surprised Marshall with an onside kick and cut the lead to 31-21 following Jai Steib’s 2-yard plunge with 13:10 left.
After a three-and-out by Marshall, the Tigers executed a fake punt to perfection as punter Tom Hornsey hit Bobby McCain for 61 yards with the Herd in an all-out rush. Two plays later, Steib fumbled into the end zone and tackle Jordan Devey recovered for a touchdown that cut the lead to three.
Marshall built its lead in the third quarter after running 15 consecutive offensive plays on two drives following a recovery on a squib kick that hit an upback after Demetrius Evans’ 25-yard scoring catch from Cato.
Seven plays later, the lead stood at 24 when fullback Devon Johnson caught the first touchdown pass of his career, a 9-yard play with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
Marshall took a 17-7 lead into the locker room at halftime after a bizarre play to end the second period.
Memphis was deep inside Marshall territory, but quarterback Jacob Karam tried to pitch the ball backward in the direction of an offensive lineman to avoid being sacked. The ball bounded around on the turf until Marshall’s Deon Meadows picked it up near midfield. However, he was hit from behind and also lost possession with Memphis recovering.
The Tigers tried to call a timeout, but did not have any, resulting in a delay of game penalty. By rule, Marshall could take the option of running off 10 seconds, which ended the half because only eight seconds remained when the penalty occurred.
It was the most entertaining part of a relatively uneventful first half of play.
Marshall’s defense played well in the first quarter, limiting Memphis to just 43 yards as the Herd jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
Gator Hoskins capped a 7-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown catch — his ninth TD of the season — for the game’s first score.
After the Herd forced a Memphis punt, Justin Haig drilled a 41-yard field goal to forge the 10-point advantage.
Memphis got on the board on a 5-yard touchdown run by Jai Steib, capping a 14-play, 49-yard drive in which the Tigers converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive.
However, Cato answered the Memphis score by going 7-of-7 on the next drive. Remi Watson dove in from four yards out to set the halftime score. Watson’s four yards were part of just 25 rushing in the opening half. The Herd finished with only 92 yards rushing in the game.