ATHENS, Ohio — It was déjà a vu all over again for The Herd Saturday night at Peden Stadium, where Marshall fell to Ohio 34-31 plagued by turnovers and mistakes.
Marshall committed four turnovers and the Bobcats capitalized each time. In the last three games versus Ohio, Marshall has turned the ball over 13 times.
“We just didn’t play well enough, we turned it over too many times,” Doc Holliday said. “Our kids fought but you can’t turn the ball over that many times and win the game.”
The miscues started on the opening drive for The Herd, as Essray Taliaferro coughed up the ball. The Bobcats didn’t waste much time turning the fumble into points. Tyler Tettleton and company promptly marched the ball downfield, converting three third-down attempts along the way. Tettleton hit Troy Hill on a 4-yard touchdown pass for the early 7-0 lead.
One the first play of the ensuing drive, Marshall gave the ball right back to the Bobcats.
Steward Butler fumbled, giving Ohio the ball on The Herd’s 33-yard line. However, Marshall was able to escape that mistake without any damage. The defense limited the Bobcats to a field-goal try, which Ohio kicker Matt Green missed from 45 yards.
Marshall’s offense seemed to find some rhythm and got a spark for quarterback Rakeem Cato. He used his legs and arm to move the ball down the field to the one on the following drive. Then, Kevin Grooms dove into the endzone, just getting the ball across the goal line for his first touchdown of the season to tie the game at 7-7.
But Marshall couldn’t avoid the miscues. In the second quarter, the punt coverage team assumed return man Travis Carrie was going to call for a fair catch. Instead he returned the punt 48 yards, setting up a 32-yard field goal.
Feeling like it’d dodged a bullet, Marshall lined up for the ensuing kickoff but Steward Butler bobbled kick nd never got a handle on it. The ball rolled into the endzone and was recovered by Ohio’s Toran Davis for a score, giving Ohio a ten-point lead.
The Herd was never really able to recover.
Marshall put some points on the board before the end of the half. On third-and-7, Craig Wilkinson made a diving catch to gain 32 yards. Cato was able to work the ball down to the 5-yard line and give Justin Haig a chance to kick 22-yard field goal to pull within a touchdown at the break.
Ohio started the second half by marching 79 yards in nine plays to double its lead to 24-10. Tettleton passed for 78 yards on the drive that was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Beau Blankenship.
Marshall answered on the next drive when Taliaferro punched it in from 3 yards out. The 14-play drive was highlighted by third-down scramble by Rakeem Cato and a 19-yard pass to Tommy Shuler on fourth-and-2.
But the Bobcats would continue to play cool and collected and put together a backbreaking 18-play drive. Ohio benefited from a 4th down pass interference call on the Herd and ran 8:31 off the clock as Beau Blankenship scored from two yards out. Tettleton threw just one incompletion on the drive.
Needing to respond quickly, Marshall did. The Ohio defense lost track of tight end Gator Hoskins, but Cato did not. Cato floated a 38-yard touchdown pass out to Hoskins to pull Marshall to within a touchdown with 10:24 left in the game.
Tettleon then led an 18-play drive that consumed 8:31 and was capped off with a 29-yard Green field goal. That was enough insurance to seal the win.
Cato led The Herd in for a late score, but the onside kick rolled harmlessly out of bounds.
Marshall is on the road again next week at Virginia Tech. Kickoff is set for noon with coverage on ESPNU.