In four of Marshall six games to start the season Herd fans had to wait till the bitter end as the outcome of the game was in doubt until the final horn sounded. That was not the case Saturday night in Hattiesburg as Marshall dominated Southern Miss 59-24.
Marshall’s offense continued to roll, using a balanced attack to collect 629 yards of total offense. The Herd passed for 354 yards but ran the ball 42 times for 275 yards. Kevin Grooms rushed for 119 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns while Rakeem Cato continued to pile up stats completing 31 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns.
“T o go on the road to get a conference win like that against that team that just about put Central Florida into overtime a week ago was critical,” commented Doc Holliday during his post game news conference.
The Herd got off to a little bit of an auspicious start after taking the opening kickoff and efficiently moving down the field 71 yards on 13 plays, Just Haig missed a 21 yard field goal. Another Herd drive stalled on the second drive but this time Haig was able to connect from 44 yards away. From that point on the floodgates were opened and Marshall started to roll.
Remi Watson’s three-yard touchdown run with 21 seconds left in the first quarter capped off a 12-play drive that game Marshall a 10-3 lead. The Herd increased its lead to 17-3 in the second quarter thanks to a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cato to Antavious Wilson. Later in the second quarter Kevin Grooms got a seam up the middle and burst through the line for a 63-yard touchdown run.
“Well those three young running backs can go. I thought we played extremely well I thought our receivers played really well. It was just overall a fun game to watch when the three phases came together and played extremely well,” said Head Coach Doc Holliday.
The only mistake in the second quarter came at the 9:24 mark when Kalan Reed intercepted Rakeem Cato and returned it 19 yards for a Southern Miss score. Reed’s touchdown would be the last time the Golden Eagles would score until 3:01 left in the game and by that point the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Marshall scored 28 consecutive points in the second half to finish off Southern Miss. Cato a touchdown pass to Tommy Shuler then touchdown runs by Kevin Grooms, Steward Butler and Essray Taliferro put the game out of reach.
Cato, who watched from the sidelines for much of the 4th quarter, completed passes to ten different receivers. Shuler caught a game high 11 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson had six catches and a touchdown.
“It was the first time we played a full team effort,” assessed Holliday. “I thought special teams were tremendous. I thought defense played their tails off and the offense, with the exception of one time, moved the ball well.”
Marshall now heads back to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for a matchup with C-USA rival UCF Saturday night.
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