Football Downed by UAB, 38-31
The loss dropped Marshall to 4-6 (3-3 C-USA) while UAB improved its record to 3-7 (2-4 C-USA).
The Blazers built a 24-7 halftime lead before holding off a Herd second half rally in which it scored 24 points, with a season-high 17 points in the fourth quarter.
UAB rushed for 209 yards, led by Darrin Reaves’ 184 yards and two touchdowns. In comparison, Marshall only collected 121 yards on the ground. Freshman Kevin Grooms led MU with 75 yards, moving to fourth all-time among rushing yards by Herd freshman running backs.
Marshall was only able to collect 337 yards of total offense, its lowest of the year. The Blazers also collected 25 first downs in comparison to the Herd’s 18.
MU’s defense was able to force four turnovers in the contest, including a season high three interceptions. The last time Marshall picked off three passes was at home last season against UAB.
Rakeem Cato continued to make his mark on the Herd record books with a 25-for-34 effort in the passing attack. The sophomore quarterback is now the single season leader among Marshall quarterbacks for completed passes with 343 this season. He added 216 yards to move to number six on Marshall’s single season passing yards list with 3,506. The sophomore also threw two touchdowns.
The game opened in favor of Marshall as Jeremiah Taylor forced a fumble by UAB quarterback Austin Brown which was recovered by Derrick Thomas at the Blazer two-yard line. Remi Watson would scamper in on the next play to give the Herd an early 7-0 lead.
But 24 consecutive first half points by UAB erased Marshall’s lead. Jacki Williams started the Blazers scoring as he returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown.
Another first-quarter score by UAB, this time via a four-yard run from Reaves, gave the Blazers a 14-7 lead. Brown would complete a 33-yard pass to Patrick Hearn at the start of the second quarter to extend the lead to 21-7.
After four punts by the Herd’s Tyler Williams and Cato’s lone interception of the game, UAB kicker Ty Long knocked in a 27-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the first half to send UAB into the locker room with a 24-7 advantage.
The Blazers used an 11-play drive and a 32-yard touchdown pass to Nick Adams to give them their largest lead of the game midway through the third quarter, 31-14.
Marshall began a rally late in the third quarter with 17 unanswered points. Cato connected with wide receiver Jazz King for a 10-yard touchdown strike with 3:28 left in the quarter to shrink the opposition’s lead to 31-14.
Following the first career interception by Jermaine Holmes, Grooms would find the end zone from seven yards out with 14:40 remaining in the contest.
The seventh blocked kick of the season by Marshall, this time by Brandon Sparrow, gave the ball back to the Herd with 9:05 on the clock. Seven blocked kicks this season tied the Marshall single-season record, which was set in 2011.
Justin Haig connected on a 38-yard field goal with 7:18 on the clock to cut the UAB lead to one possession, 31-24.
It was the fifth straight game Haig has connected for a successful field goal.
The Blazers, however, were able to chew up over four minutes of game clock and score with Reaves’ second touchdown of the game, this time from 17 yards out and extend their lead to 38-24.
One final score by Marshall put the game back within one possession. Gator Hoskins’ team-leading 10th receiving touchdown of the season from Cato and his third consecutive game with a score shrunk the UAB lead back to a single touchdown, 38-31.
However, the Blazers recovered the ensuing onside kick and were able to run out the clock to pick up its third win of the season.
The Herd will return home for the final time this season next Saturday when it hosts Houston at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. and will be televised by CSS. Senior day activities will take place before the game.