After having success picking apart the Ohio secondary all night long, Marshall was well on their way to marching down the field for a game winning score. After airing the ball out 64 times for 432 yards, it was Rakeem Cato’s 65th pass that carried the most weight.
Ohio struggled containing Cato’s arm throughout the night, but on Marshall’s final two possessions, the ‘Cats buckled down forcing two turnovers to hold on to a 27-24 victory, keeping the treasured hardware from the Battle for the Bell in Athens.
The ‘Cats came into the contest knowing what they were going to see out of the Thundering Herd offense. Cato came into the contest as the nation’s leading passer and demonstrated his efficiency early. If not for two dropped passes, he would have had a perfect drive to start the game which he capped off with a three-yard pass to Jazz King to put the Herd up 7-0 early.
Cato continued to have his way as the Ohio offense struggled orchestrating a ten-play drive that ended with a strike to Aaron Dobson on a slant to put Marshall up 14-0.
Ohio’s offense finally saw some light in the second quarter when Tyler Tettleton strung together a 16-play drive hitting tight end Troy Hill for a Bobcat score.
Ohio kept rolling as the first half progressed, tacking on three points off the toe of Matt Weller midway through the frame and taking the lead right before the half as Tettleton connected with Tyler Futrell to put Ohio up 17-14 heading into the locker room.
After a drought of scoring to start the second half, Cato regained his magic touch finding Gator Boskins to give Marshall back the lead, 21-17, as the third quarter came to a close.
Marshall added to their lead at the start of the fourth with a 37-yard Justin Haig field goal giving the Herd a seven-point lead.
Ohio had their most Penn State-esque drive of the night as Tettleton led the ‘Cats into the Marshall student section early in the fourth. After converting two third-and-longs, Ohio faced a fourth down from 27 yards out. Tettleton audibled out of the called play to drop a pass into Ryan Clark for the tying score.
“It was clear in my mind that we needed to get points on the board and a field goal wasn’t going to win it,’ Solich said. “We called a play to get the first down. He tagged the wideout to go deep.”
“Yeah I probably should have just stuck with the original play we had drawn up,” Tettleton said. “But with Ryan Clark out there I’ll take anything against anybody.”
With the game tied, Cato took the field with the confidence to go out and reclaim victory for the Herd. Four plays into the next drive, he connected with Antavious Wilson but Larenzo Fisher was able to pop the ball out into the hands of Nate Carpenter.
“I’m a smaller guy, so sometimes people don’t see me,” Carpenter said. “I’ve always been in the right place at the right time growing up playing football. I’m just happy to be in the right place at the right time and make some plays for our team to get some wins.”
Looking for a touchdown to ice the game, Ohio stalled coming away with a 38-yard field goal from Weller. This meant Ohio’s defense had to, once again, keep Cato from coming through.
Cato did everything right to start the drive, moving the Marshall offense 48 yards on six plays putting them deep in Ohio territory looking for the win. On his seventh play, he made a costly mistake. He didn’t see Jelani Wosely underneath the route of his intended receiver who hauled in the interception giving the win to the Green and White.
“It was wild,” Woseley said. “I took it for what it was. It was crunch-time, we had to make a play. Even though they were marching down, it was a game ender.”
“Couldn’t be any prouder of our guys,” Solich said. “I think they truly believe in one another. Tremendous amount of credit to Marshall. To be 3-0 at this point and time is an amazing feat.”
Ohio returns home next Saturday with a much less daunting opponent in Norfolk State as they look to keep their dream season alive. Kickoff from Peden Stadium is 2:00 p.m.