HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall surrendered 224 rushing yards and 17 points off three turnovers in a stunning 41-30 loss to Florida International at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The Herd (6-2, 3-1) saw its five-game winning streak snapped as quarterback Chase Litton lost a fumble on the game’s second play and suffered two subsequent interceptions.
“I didn’t play well obviously. I had three turnovers single-handedly and we lost the game,” said Litton, who didn’t blame the rainy weather for his mistakes.
“Their quarterback went in there and didn’t do that. I dropped the football. It is what it is — a lack of focus.”
FIU (5-2, 3-1) got two touchdown passes from Alex McGough, while Thomas Hart pulled in seven catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns, giving Herd cornerback Chris Jackson fits all day.
The Golden Panthers led 35-7 after a 12-yard interception return by cornerback Brad Muhammad.
Litton led a 21-point charge but Marshall couldn’t complete the comeback.
“It doesn’t mean anything — we lost the game and we play to win,” he said. “We don’t play for morale victories. We aren’t excited to lose the game by 11. We made some plays, but not enough.”
Receivers Tyre Brady and Marcel Williams combinedfor 18 catches, 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Marshall’s ground game, riding a hot streak into Saturday’s matchup, got 85 yards from Keion Davis and 82 from Tyler King. Much of Davis’ output came on a 59-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Herd ended the night with 505 yards offense, but drives often stalled on FIU’s end of the field, evidenced by Marshall’s 0-of-3 fourth-down conversion rate.
“Those fourth-down stops are almost equivalent to turnovers,” said FIU coach Butch Davis. “Obviously they don’t score points or flip the field position, so those were big plays by our defense.”
On the ground FIU took the running back by committee approach. Running back Napoleon Maxwell averaged 8 yards per carry and finished with 95 yards and a touchdown. Alex Gardner added another 73 yards and a score on his 19 carries.
“When you go on the road and play somebody like Marshall — who our kids have great respect for at 6-1 in the conference and literally took N.C. State to the very end — it obviously gets the attention of your players,” said Davis. “You have to really truly count on your playmakers to step up and obviously today was very good.”
The 17-point underdogs did not commit a turnover.
“We have worked really hard on trying to flip the turnover ratio, to be honest with you I was shocked we have won four games because we have only won the turnover ratio one time,” Davis said. “Not turning the ball over today in a rainy nasty slippery game was unbelievably good.”
On the defensive end of the ball, Marshall linebacker Chase Hancock and safety Malik Gant combined for a strange stat line. Hancock finished the game with 17 assisted tackles, Gant had 13 assisted tackles.
“We knew what they were going to do — we practiced and practiced,” Hancock said. “Things just weren’t clicking there.”
“It is time to get back to work,” said defensive tackle Ryan Bee.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday said the team has no time to dwell on the loss with Friday’s game at Florida Atlantic.
“We have a short week this week, we have to turn this thing around and get that one behind us quick,” Holliday said.
— By Troy Alexander