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September 15, 2013
Turnovers Plague Marshall in 34-31 Loss to Ohio
ATHENS, Ohio - Despite outgaining Ohio by over 100 yards, the Marshall football team turned the ball over four times and lost the "Battle for the Bell" 34-31 Saturday at Peden Stadium.
The Thundering Herd (2-1) accumulated 482 total yards while the Bobcats (2-1) had 339, 266 of which came from the arm of senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
"He made plays when he had to and we couldn't get off the field," said coach Doc Holliday.
"The Bell," won by Ohio for the third consecutive season, was played for in front 24,836, the third highest attended game in Peden Stadium history which included many in kelly green.
Junior quarterback Rakeem Cato (Miami, Fla.) threw for a season-high 366 yards and completed 30-of-45 pass attempts. His one touchdown pass, a 38-yard heave to senior tight end Gator Hoskins (Gainesville, Fla.) in the fourth quarter, gave him 21 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass the second best mark in the nation among FBS players.
"We just didn't play well enough," Holliday said. "We turned it over too many times. Give Ohio a lot of credit, they fought hard, and our guys did too."
After Marshall fumbled in its opening possession, Ohio scored first. Tettleton completed a 4-yard pass to Troy Hill for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead early in the game.
Marshall got on the board later in the first quarter when sophomore running back Kevin Grooms' 1-yard touchdown run capped off a 10-play, 72-yard drive and tied the game 7-7 with 4:01 remaining in the opening period.
A 32-yard field goal by the Bobcats' Matt Green put Ohio ahead 10-7 with 5:15 to play in the first half. On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore running back Steward Butler (Lakeland, Fla.) mishandled the return which went into the end zone and was recovered by Ohio's Tran Davis for the touchdown. It was a 17-7 lead for the Bobcats with 5:08 remaining until halftime.
"That kick return was unacceptable and just can't happen," Holliday said.
Junior Justin Haig's 22-yard field goal finished an impressive 93-yard drive which started at the Marshall 1-yard line. The Bobcats led 17-10 at halftime.
Ohio opened the second half with a 79-yard drive which ended with a 3-yard touchdown run from running back Beau Blankenship to increase its lead to 24-10 with 10:52 left in the third quarter.
Marshall's next possession, its longest scoring drive of the season, covered 68 yards and included 14 plays. The Herd converted four third downs and finished with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Essray Taliaferro (Washington, D.C.). Ohio led 24-17 with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bobcats then put together a lengthy drive of its own, taking 18 plays and nearly eight minutes to score on a 2-yard touchdown run by Blankenship.
Marshall responded with a 5-play, 75-yard drive and a touchdown in the form of a 38-yard reception from Cato to Hoskins, his third of the season.
The Herd's defense forced the Bobcats to punt on its next possession, but Cato's first pass of the drive was intercepted by Devin Bass. Ohio took advantage and kicked a 29-yard field goal to give the Bobcats a 10-point lead with just 2:46 remaining.
A late scoring drive by Marshall resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by Grooms, but only 29 seconds remained. The Herd attempted an onside kick, which went out-of-bounds.
Junior wide receiver Tommy Shuler led the Herd with 95 yards receiving on nine receptions. Senior wide receiver Demetrius Evans (Belle Glade, Fla.) also had nine receptions and finished with 59 yards. Hoskins finished with four catches for 81 yards.
Marshall will next play at Virginia Tech on Saturday at noon on ESPNU.