Marshall Overcomes Turnovers to Down Tulsa, 45-34
Football rallies after surrendering lead for road win
Nov. 14, 2013
TULSA, Okla. – Playing a road game on Nov. 14 for the first time since the 1970 Marshall football plane crash, the Thundering Herd rallied despite committing five turnovers to beat Tulsa, 45-34, Thursday night at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
The win helped Marshall improve to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in Conference USA play, while the loss dropped the Golden Hurricane to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in league play.
Wasting no time in quieting down the Tulsa home crowd, Marshall found the end zone on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Rakeem Cato (Miami, Fla.) to Tommy Shuler (Miami, Fla.) on third and long, putting the Herd up 7-0 just 2:39 into the game.
A poorly booted punt by the Golden Hurricane gave the Herd a short field to work with not long after its first scoring drive. Two plays and 49 yards later, Cato found Devon Smith (White Plains, Md.) on a 44-yard pass down the sideline to give his side a 14-0 advantage.
A stout Marshall defense kept the Tulsa offense in check and allowed Cato to improve his first-quarter efficiency. The distribution of wealth continued as Cato found Gator Hoskins (Gainesville, Fla.) down the seam for a 22-yard strike to extend the Herd’s lead to 21-0 before the first quarter concluded.
In the second quarter, Tulsa’s offense got in a rhythm, starting with a one-yard touchdown run from running back Trey Watts. The score ended the shutout and pulled the Golden Hurricane within 21-7 as 12:11 remained until the half.
Looking to gain momentum before its home crowd, Tulsa found pay dirt again. This time on s 26-yard passing play from Dane Evans to Thomas Roberson, making it 21-14 with 7:30 to play until the break.
Marshall would collect itself with the help from its junior quarterback as Cato found Hoskins for another six-point score. Cato’s fourth passing touchdown of the night put the Herd up 28-14 with under five minutes left to play in the second quarter.
With 28 seconds left until halftime, junior kicker Justin Haig (Delray Beach, Fla.) connected on a 31-yard field goal to put Marshall up 31-14 heading into the half. The Herd amassed a total of 371 yards in the first half, marking the second highest yard total in a half for Marshall this season.
Tulsa defense came out in the second half with a comeback in mind. Two turnovers early in the second half led to 14-straight points by Tulsa, allowing the Golden Hurricane to draw within three points as the score read 31-28 with 8:01 remaining in the third quarter.
The Golden Hurricane completed the comeback in the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal as 4:43 remained in the quarter. As the third quarter ended, it did so with the Herd having fumbled the football three times in the period, which allowed three Tulsa recoveries.
Capitalizing on the final of three third-quarter Marshall fumbles, Tulsa connected on a 30-yard field goal to take its first lead of the game, 34-31 with 12:27 remaining in the contest. With the field goal, the Golden Hurricane had recorded 24 points off turnovers through just over three quarters of play.
After having cranked up its defense, Marshall took possession in Tulsa territory trialing on the road. Cato would rally his offense to lead a five-play drive for 39 yards that was capped off with a 18-yard touchdown connection between Cato and Shuler, putting the Herd on top 38-34 with 3:47 remaining in the game.
As Tulsa looked to drive down the field and regain the lead, the Marshall defense would not allow even a first down in the final minutes. The Herd’s defensive line stepped up to force a turnover on downs, allowing Marshall to take over at the Golden Hurricane four-yard line.
Essray Taliaferro (Washington, D.C.) punched it in from one yard out for Marshall, extending the Herd’s lead to double digits for the second time in the contest. Taliaferro’s touchdown dive put his squad up 45-34 with 2:45 remaining.
The Herd put the game on ice, when freshman defensive back Tiquan Lang (Port St. Joe, Fla.) intercepted a pass from Evans across the middle. The interception would allow Marshall to run out the clock and secure a 45-34 win to remain atop of the C-USA East Division.
Once the game went final, the Herd had outgained Tulsa 619 to 345 in total yards, despite having turned the ball over five times, four of which came in the form of fumbles. Cato led the Marshall offense and finished 33-of-58 for 456 yards and five touchdowns. Shuler was the top receiver for the Herd as his nine catches totaled 105 yards, including two touchdowns.
With the win, Marshall recorded its first win over Tulsa in program history. Entering Thursday, the Herd was 0-4 against the Golden Hurricane and 0-2 in Tulsa.
Marshall will have a nine-day turnaround before taking its talents to South Beach for a date with C-USA newcomer FIU on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. The game is set to be televised on Fox College Sports Central.