St. Petersburg, Fla. — Marshall’s offense struggled to score touchdowns inside the redzone, but the Herd’s defense smothered Connecticut’s offense and Marshall slugged out a 16-10 win in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl. The victory marks the third consecutive 10-win season for Marshall, which is the only school outside of the five major conferences to post double digit wins in the last three seasons.
UConn’s offense was harassed throughout the day by an aggressive Marshall defense that set several St. Petersburg Bowl records Saturday afternoon. Marshall’s defense allowed the fewest passing yards (86), pass completions (10), total yards (216) and tied its own record for fewest points allowed (10). Marshall set the previous record in a 20-10 win over FIU in 2011. Sophomore Kendall Gant led the defense with nine tackles and an interception.
Marshall controlled the ball throughout the game, holding onto the pigskin almost ten minutes more than the Huskies and running 27 more plays. Despite outgaining UConn by 176 yards, the Huskies remained within striking distance throughout the game.
The Herd drove inside the UConn 20-yard line four times and came away with only Nick Smith field goals of 21, 29 and 32 yards. Marshall also tried to covert a 4th and 2 at the UConn 17-yard line and was turned away by the Husky defense.
Marshall’s only touchdown came early on in the first quarter. A 26-yard punt return by Deandre Reaves gave Marshall the football on the UConn 20-yard line. Marshall made quick work of the excellent field position, scoring two plays later on a 16-yard Chase Litton touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Yuracheck.
UConn tied the game late in the first quarter. With 1:51 remaining in the first quarter, Ron Johnson scored on an 8-yard run capping off the Huskies’ best offensive series of the afternoon, a 13-play 65-yard drive.
Deandre Reaves was named St. Petersburg Bowl Most Valuable Player. Reaves caught nine passes, tying a bowl record, and had a 26-yard punt return in his final game for Marshall.
Tampa-native, Chase Litton capped off his rookie season with the Herd by throwing for 218 yards and a touchdown.
Devon Johnson, who had missed most of the season due to injuries, returned to the line up today and banged out 38 yards ton 10 carries.
Keion Davis was the leading rusher for the Herd with 10 rushes for 73 yards.