No. 18 @HerdFB Holds Off UAB; Improves to 11-0

Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –  The No. 18 Marshall Thundering Herd fought in its closest game of the season, overcoming trailing twice to defeat UAB 23-18 on Saturday at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.

 

Marshall moves to 11-0 (7-0 C-USA) on the season, while the Blazers dropped to 5-6 (3-4 C-USA).  The Herd is now just the third team in league history to start 11-0. Tulane turned in a 12-0 season in 1998, and Houston started 12-0 in 2011 before losing to Southern Miss in the C-USA title game.

 

For just the fourth time this season, Marshall trailed in the beginning, after a Ty Long 36-yard field goal delivered a 3-0 lead for the Blazers early in the opening quarter.

 

The Herd quickly responded with an eight play, 75 yard scoring drive. Quarterback Rakeem Cato (Miami) connected a 28-yard pass to longtime teammate Tommy Shuler (Miami) to put six on the board for Marshall. The pass extended Cato’s NCAA record to 43 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. The catch was the 23rd of Shuler’s career, tying him for No. 7 all-time in the Herd record books.

 

UAB added another Long kick to its scoring resume, this one from 40 yards out. The kicker became the all-time leader in field goals for UAB with the boot.

 

Not even three minutes later, Cato ignited the Marshall faithful once more. The senior evaded being sacked and launched the ball across his body 43 yards to wide receiver Angelo Jean-Louis (Wellington, Fla.). The ball tipped off awaiting UAB hands and into Jean-Louis’ clutches, who took a quick skip into the endzone for another Herd touchdown and 14-6 lead.

 

After a 20-yard run by Herd running back Devon Johnson (Richlands, Va.) to the Blazers’ 15, kicker Justin Haig (Delray Beach, Fla.) was brought onto the field and delivered a 33-yard field goal to increase the point deficit to 11 and end the first half.

 

UAB came out in the third quarter continuing to apply pressure. The Blazers’ collected their first touchdown of the day on a one yard rush from sophomore Jordan Howard to cut the Herd lead to five at 17-12.

 

Marshall looked to add another touchdown in the middle of the third quarter, but a combination of an incomplete pass, fumble, and rush for no gain forced a UAB touchback and put the ball back into the Blazers’ hands again.

 

The Herd carried its smallest lead of the season into the fourth quarter. Cato was picked off at the Marshall 49 by UAB’s Shaq Jones, and four plays later, the Blazers’ snuck in their second TD of the day. A 10-yard rush from Howard delivered the first time Marshall has trailed in the second half this season.

 

With UAB leading 18-17 and under 10 minutes to go, the Herd was forced to bring in punter Tyler Williams (Fort Wayne, Ind.) after back-to-back incomplete passes. Williams launched the ball to the one yard line.

 

Three plays later, Herd senior Arnold Blackmon (Bellaire, Texas) stripped the ball from Blazers’ QB Cody Clements. Marshall’sRa’Shawde Myers (Cocoa, Fla.) recovered the fumble for a touchdown and put the Herd on top once again at 23-18.

 

The Blazers’ danced with drama in the final minutes of the game. Howard ran for 17 yards for a UAB first down and looked to continue to move the ball down field. With one yard to go for a fifth first down of the drive. The Marshall defense halted the 17 play, 64 yard drive thanks to a Jermaine Holmes (Valdosta, Ga.) tackle.

 

With 0:56 to go on the clock, Marshall used the victory formation to run time out and earn the win.

 

The Herd returns to Huntington this Friday, Nov. 28, for a special Black Friday showdown against C-USA newcomer Western Kentucky at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The game is slated for a noon kickoff and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

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