Marshall football: Herd still can't solve Tettleton
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.
"You have to have a great presence with the linebackers, and we just didn't get it done today," he said.
* * *
TAYLOR WAS lost for the second half due to injury, another blow to a defensive line that already was playing without Brandon Sparrow, whose sprained ankle kept him in Huntington for the game.
"I had a little back issue," Taylor said. "I'm going to get a lot of treatment and hopefully come back strong next week."
Defensively, the Herd is posting much better numbers through its first three games. The Herd is fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense, with 252.7 yards allowed per game, sixth in rushing defense with 67 yards allowed per game and tied with Washington State and Virginia Tech for 23rd in scoring defense with 16 points allowed per game.
Marshall allowed 266 passing yards and 64 rushing yards to Ohio on Saturday. The Bobcats rushed for 199 yards against the Herd last season.
* * *
KEVIN GROOMS returned for his first extended action of the season. He carried the ball four times in Marshall's win over Miami University, but sat against Gardner-Webb to rest an ankle he sprained early in preseason practice.
The 2012 Conference USA freshman of the year led Marshall with 35 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. The Herd ended up gaining 116 yards overall on 34 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.