MCGILL: @HerdFB Falls Short at Florida Atlantic
The Word on the Herd
Box Score (PDF)
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- A share of first place was within Marshall's grasps here at FAU Stadium on Friday night, but that opportunity slipped away after a third quarter comeback by the home team.
The Thundering Herd scored the first 13 points of the second half to tie the game, but host Florida Atlantic -- undefeated in Conference USA -- took control from there for a 30-25 win. Marshall tried to limit the league's best offense, particularly star running back Devin Singletary, but the sophomore made his share of plays as the Owls became the conference's second bowl eligible team.
Singletary scored rushing and receiving, piling up 275 all-purpose yards in the win. He carried 27 times for 203 yards, which included a 66-yard run that was the first play of at least 50 yards the Herd defense had allowed all season. Singletary also had two receptions for 72 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown catch on a trick play that proved to be the game-winning score.
Singletary surpassed 200 yards for the second consecutive game and is the first opposing running back to rush for at least 100 yards against the Herd defense this season.
Marshall (6-3, 3-2 C-USA), though, had the game tied midway through the third quarter against FAU, which has won five consecutive games and sits at 6-3 overall and 5-0 in league play with three games left.
The Herd received the ball first in the third quarter and promptly drove 75 yards in seven plays before junior quarterback Chase Litton found senior tight end Ryan Yurachek for a 5-yard touchdown. The reception extended Yurachek's streak of consecutive games with a catch to 38 games, but more importantly pulled the Herd with 6 points, 16-10, with 12:10 left of the third.
The big play to set up that touchdown came on third and 9, when Litton found junior receiver Marcel Williams for a 59-yard game to FAU's 5-yard line. The catch put Williams over 100 receiving yards for the first time in his nine-game Marshall career, and the reception represented a career long.
MU coach Doc Holliday gambled from there, spotting an opportunity for his team to rally on the road. He called for an onside kick and kicker Kaare Vedvik dribbled the ball 10 yards and recovered it to give the Herd possession again. Nine plays and 54 yards later, junior running back Keion Davis bullied his way into the end zone to tie the game, 16-16.
Vedvik missed the extra point, but the Herd had scored 13 points before the dangerous FAU offense had ran one play in the third quarter.
Williams was again the long gainer for the Herd on that drive, catching a 20-yard pass from Litton to put the MU inside the 5. Davis scored three plays later.
The teams then exchanged punt, and Vedvik pinned FAU deep in its own territory with a 59-yard punt that was downed at the 6. But the Owls' offense finally found success in the third quarter with a three-play, 94-yard drive that lasted 52 seconds.
The go-ahead score came on a little bit of Lane Kiffin and Kendal Briles offensive trickery, a play in which senior receiver Kamrin Solomon found a wide open Singletary for a 60-yard touchdown connection. That gave FAU the lead, 23-16, with 2:25 left of the third quarter.
Singletary's second score, to make it 30-16, came six plays after Litton tossed his third interception of the game to set up a short field. FAU entered the game tied for sixth nationally in turnovers gained with 20, which included 14 interceptions. With 17 team interceptions, the Owls lead all FBS teams in picks heading into this weekend's games.
As a driving rain set in over FAU Stadium, Litton engineered a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Yurachek. The 15-yard connection, Yurachek's second receiving touchdown of the game, made it 30-23 with 5:16 left.
The Herd had one final chance after forcing the Owls to punt. Marshall started a drive at its own 19 with 3:14 left of the fourth quarter and no timeouts, but the possession ended with Litton's fourth interception.
FAU opened the scoring after winning the coin toss and electing to receive. The Owls put together a rare lengthy drive -- 16 plays and 74 yards -- before Jason Driskell scored on a keeper to the left to make it 7-0, FAU. The hosts rushed 13 times on the opening drive, and twice converted fourth downs.
Singletary rushed for 53 yards on the opening drive alone.
FAU's second possession was much shorter: 19 yards on one play. After a Litton interception and return by strong safety Jalen Young, receiver Willie Wright scored on a 19-yard carry to give the Owls a 13-0 lead. FAU missed the extra point.
The Herd offense put together a lengthy drive on the next possession, keeping the ball for 13 plays, 61 yards and 7:16. But Vedvik missed a 31-yard field goal and left MU with zero points early in the second quarter.
Vedvik atoned for the miss later in the second quarter when he booted a 28-yarder through to make it 13-3, FAU. That followed an eight-play, 44-yard drive keyed by a 31-yard reception by MU junior receiver Marcel Williams, who caught the ball going from his right to his left and hurdled a defender before being brought down. Marshall had regained possession after a fourth down stop.
The Herd defense again came through, finally forcing FAU to punt after three previous fourth down attempts throughout the game. But Marshall's late-half attempt to pull within one possession was thwarted when the Owls intercepted Litton for a second time.
The FAU offense responded with the 66-yard run by Singletary. That set up a field goal by Greg Joseph, who knocked one through from 31 yards out to make the halftime score 16-3, in favor of the Owls.
Despite the 13-point halftime margin, the first half statistics were similar. FAU outgained Marshall 209-203 in the opening two quarters, and the Herd held an 11-10 advantage in first downs. FAU ran two more plays, 38-37, which made the teams even in average yards per play, 5.5 to 5.5.
Litton completed 13 of 19 passes for 152 yards in the first half, but had the two miscues. Junior receiver Tyre Brady finished the first half with seven receptions for 77 yards.
Marshall will try to end its two-game skid when it hosts Western Kentucky at home on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 6:30 p.m.