Herd Outlasts Kent State in Double Overtime, 36-29

Updated 5 years ago Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

KENT, Ohio – Marshall football overcame a slow start to defeat Kent State on the road in double overtime, 36-29, on Saturday at Dix Stadium.

With the win, the Thundering Herd improved to 3-1, while the Golden Flashes fell to 1-3. Notably, among Group of Five programs, Marshall has the best record in the 2014-15 seasons at 16-2 with one win over a Power Five team (Purdue on Sept. 6).

In his second start, freshman quarterback Chase Litton (Tampa, Fla.) ended with 151 yards on 14-of-36 passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Redshirt sophomore running back Tony Pittman (Hampton, Va.) demolished his previous career high (37 yards at Southern Miss in 2014) with 129 yards rushing on 24 carries and two touchdowns.

To begin the game, Kent State won the toss and elected to receive. Marshall forced a punt on the first drive and took over on its own 43-yard line at 12:24. On the first Herd play, Litton was intercepted by Jordan Italiano, and Kent State took over at its own 48-yard line. Marshall paid for the turnover as Antwan Dixon drew first blood for KSU on a reverse, sprinting 47 yards to the end zone at 11:33. The Flashes tried for two points but were unsuccessful and took a 6-0 lead.

Pittman gave Marshall its first lead with 1:26 remaining in the first quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run – his first of the season. A 22-yard pass from Litton to Ryan Yurachek (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) helped to set up the scoring play. The first quarter ended with the Herd on top, 7-6.

At 8:40 in the second quarter, Kent State re-gained the lead on a three-yard touchdown run up the middle by Trayion Durham to go up 13-7, which remained the score going into halftime.

With 9:11 left in the third quarter, KSU extended its lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Colin Reardon to Ernest Calhoun. The Flashes tried again for a two-point conversion but the Herd thwarted the attempt to keep the score at 19-7.

The momentum finally started to swing in the Herd’s favor on the resulting kickoff return as redshirt senior Deandre Reaves (Sterling, Va.) took the ball 93 yards to the end zone. The resulting point-after-touchdown cut the Herd’s deficit to 19-14 with 8:51 remaining in the third quarter. It was Reaves’ second career kick return for a touchdown, matching his career long of 93 for a touchdown in last year’s Boca Raton Bowl victory.

Adding to the Herd’s momentum shift was a fumble recovered at midfield by Evan McKelvey (Moncks Corner, S.C.) with 3:45 to go in the third quarter. Although Marshall had a three-and-out on the resulting drive, the Herd defense forced a KSU punt on the next possession, heading into the fourth quarter.

The lead changed for the third time as Marshall’s first possession of the fourth quarter ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Litton to Yurachek. It was Yurachek’s second touchdown reception of the season. Pittman converted the two-point attempt to give the Herd a 22-19 advantage with 12:32 remaining.

With 4:55 left to play, Kent State knotted the game at 22 on a 33-yard field goal by Shane Hynes.

On the resulting Marshall drive, Litton was intercepted for the second time by Marcus Elliott, and the Flashes took over at their own 48-yard line with 3:34 on the clock. The Herd defense held tough, stuffing a KSU fourth-down attempt and taking over with just over two minutes remaining. Marshall’s offense could not convert on the final drive of regulation, and the teams headed to overtime.

Kent State started with the ball and scored on its first possession, a 12-yard pass from Reardon to Brice Fackler. Hynes made the point-after-touchdown to make it 29-22.

On fourth and three, Litton hit Davonte Allen (Belle Glade, Fla.) in the end zone, and Nick Smith (Plain City, Ohio) kicked the extra point to keep the Herd’s comeback hopes alive, 29-29.

Double overtime began with the Herd on first possession. Three plays later, Pittman drove for eight yards into the end zone and Marshall went up 36-39. On the do-or-die drive for Kent State, the Herd’s defense held off the Flashes and Marshall escaped with the win.

The Herd will return home to host Old Dominion (2-2) on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 3:30 p.m. ET at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va.