Marshall football: Ohio rings up another win over the Herd, 34-31
ATHENS, Ohio –- The Marshall University football team still couldn't get its hands on "The Bell" on Saturday night, mainly because it couldn't keep its hands on the football.
Turnovers doomed the Herd for the third straight season in its annual "Battle for the Bell" with Ohio University. Marshall gave it up four times in a 34-31 loss, the first time the Herd (2-1) has lost to the Bobcats three times in a row since the 1978-80 seasons.
Those turnovers were the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th the Herd has given to the Bobcats in their last three meetings.
"I thought our kids fought," Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said, "but you can't turn the ball over the number of times we did and expect to win a football game."
Even with the turnovers, Marshall had its chances in the fourth quarter to pull even with Ohio (2-1). The Herd would be able to cut Ohio's lead to a touchdown in the second half after Rakeem Cato launched a 38-yard touchdown pass to tight end Gator Hoskins to make it 31-24.
Then the Marshall defense forced a punt and gave itself a chance to tie. But on the first play of that drive, Demetrius Evans fell on a route and Cato's pass ended up in the hands of Ohio corner Devin Bass at Marshall's 33.
The Bobcats were able to get a field goal out of that drive, enough to hold on for the win, even after Cato tacked on a one-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left for the final scoring margin.
"We just shot ourselves in the feet," said Cato, who finished with 366 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 30-of-45 passing. "We had so many (missed assignments) among ourselves. It just got away from us."
The Herd missed a chance at a quality win Saturday night after pummeling lesser opponents Miami University and Gardner-Webb in its first two games. It only gets tougher for Marshall next week, with a visit to Virginia Tech next on the slate.
The Herd fell into an early hole thanks to horrendous first-half ball control. Marshall lost three fumbles in the first two quarters. The first gave the Bobcats a short field for a 53-yard scoring drive, capped by Tettleton's four-yard pass to Troy Hill to give Ohio a 7-0 lead. The Herd dodged a bullet on the second fumble – Stew Butler's giveaway on his first carry on Marshall's next drive – and put together a 10-play 72-yard touchdown drive ending in Kevin Groom's 1-yard scoring run, but the third turnover was a stunner.
After a 32-yard field goal by Ohio kicker Matt Green -- on another short field enabled by a 48 yards Travis Carrie punt return -- Butler took the ensuing kickoff … or at least tried to. He bobbled the kick several times, then kicked it into the end zone, where it was recovered by Torran Davis to give Ohio a 17-7 lead.
Marshall engineered a nine-play, 93-yard scoring drive to end the half, with Justin Haig's 22-yard field goal cutting Ohio's lead to 17-10 as time ran out. The Herd trailed despite outgaining the Bobcats 273-127 in the first half.
The Herd finally got to Tettleton, sacking him twice. It was the first time the Herd had recorded a sack against the quarterback in three meetings. Still, he finished with 266 yards and a touchdown on 25-of-38 passing and stayed interception free. The entire Bobcats team stayed turnover free.
Tommy Shuler led all receivers with 95 yards on nine catches, while Matt Waters caught six passes for 83 yards for Ohio. Ohio's Beau Blankenship led all runners with 36 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, while Grooms returned to gain 35 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
-- Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.