ATHENS, Ohio - Despite its best performance against him in the three times they've faced off, the Marshall football team's defense still couldn't get the upper hand on Ohio University quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
With a combination of mobility and veteran savvy, Tettleton weathered an improved Thundering Herd defense to lead the Bobcats to a 34-31 win over Marshall at Peden Stadium. It was Tettleton's third straight win over Marshall in the annual "Battle for the Bell."
"He made plays," Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said, "and that's what great players do. To keep them from getting off the field, he found a way to make a play."
Perhaps the flashiest play came on the final drive of the third quarter. That drive could have lasted just three plays, with Marshall holding Ohio to third and 8 on its 27. But Tettleton scrambled away from pressure and heaved a shovel pass to Matt Waters for 10 yards and a first down.
That kept alive what would become an 18-play, 75-yard drive lasting 8:31 and ended in a two-yard Beau Blankenship touchdown that put the Bobcats up 31-17.
Tettleton threw just one touchdown and was sacked twice, the first time Marshall has sacked him in three meetings, but he still threw for 266 yards on 25-for-38 passing. A lot of those yards came as the senior quarterback used his feet to escape Marshall's pressure.
"It's very frustrating," senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor said of Tettleton's elusiveness. "But this game is four quarters long, so you've got to keep your head and make sure you stay composed. What's important is the next play."
* * *
THE BOBCATS were very effective Saturday night in completing inside slant routes. Waters said that might have something to do with familiarity with Herd defensive coordinator Chuck Heater.
"We saw that they were playing a lot of outside coverage on those guys and we felt like we could take advantage of it across the board," he said. "We've got great receivers and we had an idea and knew what they were doing. We've played that defense coordinator for years now. He was at Temple and now he's with Marshall, so we've got a great idea of what they are doing and it feels pretty good to beat them again."
Heater spent two seasons as Temple's defensive coordinator before moving to Marshall. Linebacker Derek Mitchell said the man coverage makes it hard to take away the slant.