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Sept. 22, 2007
CINCINNATI - Penalties and early turnovers cost Marshall on Saturday as the Herd lost to the University of Cincinnati 40-14 in front of capacity crowd at UC's Nippert Stadium.
Marshall fell to 0-4 on the season with the loss while Cincinnati's record remains unblemished at 4-0. This marks the first time that Marshall has opened a season with four straight losses since 1969.
The Bearcats, who led the NCAA in both turnovers and turnover margin coming into the contest, did nothing to lose their lead in either category. After falling behind 2-0, Cincinnati forced a pair of Marshall turnovers in the first quarter and took control of the game midway through the period, scoring 26 unanswered points.
Cincinnati was coldly efficient on offense. As a team, the Bearcats were 20 of 27 passing as quarterbacks Dustin Grutza and Ben Mauk combined for 219 yards three touchdowns. Seven Bearcats combined to gain 217 yards on the ground, including Greg Moore who led the way with 70 yards on six attempts.
Marshall was led offensively by quarterback Bernard Morris who was 20 of 30 passing for 252 yards. Tight end Cody Slate caught six passes for 49 yards and wideout Darius Passmore had seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
The Herd's lone bright spot of the first quarter came when punter Anthony Binswanger pinned Cincinnati on the Bearcat one-yard line with a 44-yard punt. The Marshall defense capitalized on third down when senior Ryland Wilson pressured Grutza into committing an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone.
After the free kick, Marshall committed its first costly turnover. Morris' pass to Emmanuel Spann was bobbled and deflected off of a foot into the hands of Cincinnati defensive back Mike Mickens. The Bearcats quickly cashed in the freebee on an amazing six-yard scramble by Grutza and a 17-yard touchdown run by Moore and took the lead for good.
The floodgates began to open on Marshall's next possession when center Doug Legursky's
snap sailed over Morris' head and into the end zone. The Herd QB dove on the ball for a safety.
Cincinnati took Marshall's free kick and proceeded to drive 42 yards in seven plays, setting up a Jake Rodgers 31-yard field goal with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
The Thundering Herd handed the ball to Cincinnati again on its next drive when Kelvin Turner fumbled on Marshall's 45-yard line. The error resulted in another Bearcat touchdown as Grutza connected with receiver Marcus Barnett on the first play of the second period and extended the lead to 19-2.
After coming in to relieve Grutza in the second quarter, Mauk took the Bearcats 92 yards in seven plays connecting on three passes including a 27-yard touchdown strike to Barnett.
Marshall finally stopped the bleeding and put together a seven play 85-yard drive capped off by a four yard scoring toss from Morris to Courtney Edmonson.
After a lackluster third quarter, the Herd pulled to within two scores as Morris found Darius Passmore for a 33-yard touchdown, moving the score to 14-25 with 13:52 left in the game.
The Bearcats answered immediately as Gruza reentered the game and connected on four of six passes during an eight play scoring drive that ended with his second touchdown throw of the game.
Cincinnati hit the 40-point mark when Jacob Ramsey scored on an electrifying 42-yard romp in which he hurdled one defender and stiffed armed another would be tackler before cutting across the field and dashing to the end zone.