The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

November 3, 2013

Herd doesn’t Miss a thing

Marshall takes care of business with blowout of winless Eagles

HUNTINGTON — Ironic that Marshall would be recognizing its landmark 1998 team that went 12-1, won a second straight Mid-American Conference championship and won a bowl game for the first time ever.

The quarterback on that team was Chad Pennington, who set a school record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass on his way to a career in the National Football League.

Pennington was on hand as he moved over a bit in the record books.

Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato tied Pennington’s mark of 26 straight games, tossing five touchdowns in the Thundering Herd’s 61-13 victory over winless Southern Miss Saturday in front of a light Joan C. Edwards Stadium crowd of 20,398.

Cato threw for four TDs in the first quarter, each to a different receiver. He completed his first eight passes and eventually finished 21-of-28 for 262 yards and was not intercepted.

Cato exited before the Herd’s last series of the third quarter, replaced by backup Blake Frohnapfel. That meant one of Pennington’s records remained safe — he and Byron Leftwich share the mark for TD passes in a game with six.

The team mark was tied when Frohnapfel threw a 40-yard touchdown to Davonte Allen in the fourth quarter.

“Me and (offensive coordinator Bill) Legg was telling the team all week that we’ve got to start fast,” Cato said. “Put ourselves in a comfortable lead and put ourselves in great position to win the ballgame. I think we did a great job of that.”

Nine receivers caught passes for the Herd (5-3, 3-1 Conference USA), paced by Tommy Shuler’s 10 receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Allen also scored twice and had three catches for a team-high 83 yards.

The 61 points were the most ever scored by the Herd in a C-USA game, and the most since a 66-21 win over Buffalo in 2002.

Jumping on a winless team was big, especially coming off the team’s disappointing 51-49 loss at Middle Tennessee State on Oct. 24.

“Going into this football game, it was important we come out and start fast,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “I thought we did that. It was also important we come out in the second half and do the same thing, and we did that, also.”

Southern Miss (0-8, 0-4) was briefly competitive, scoring 10 straight after trailing 28-0. True freshman quarterback Nick Mullens hooked up with Markese Triplett on an 81-yard touchdown pass — Triplett broke free for the last 40 yards after Herd safety Taj Letman tried to punch the ball free instead of going for the tackle.

Ironically, the drive started when Essray Taliaferro, seemingly on his way to a 61-yard touchdown run, had the ball knocked out of his arm and through the end zone by Emmanuel Johnson for a touchback.

Corey Acosta’s 39-yard field goal capped off a drive that started after Tyler Williams shanked a 23-yard punt to the Southern Miss 47.

“We hit a little bit of a bump in the road there in the second quarter, where we had a couple of turnovers that shouldn’t have happened,” Holliday said. “We fumbled in the end zone, which is ridiculous. But for the most part, I thought we played pretty clean.”

That was the last bit of life shown by Southern Miss, which allowed two more touchdowns after the Herd began to empty its bench. It was more of the same for the Eagles, who had lost their previous two games by identical 55-14 scores, and have been outscored 120-37 in their last two meetings with the Herd.

“It’s obvious we didn’t do many things right,” first-year Eagles coach Todd Monken said. “You can sugarcoat it all you want, but we didn’t tackle very well and we didn’t defend them fluently enough. ... We’re having a hard time piecing plays together, and there’s no way to get around it.”

Marshall racked up 636 yards of total offense, including 304 on the ground. Taliaferro ran for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Kevin Grooms, still nursing a high ankle sprain, scored on a 75-yard run and finished with 109 yards on eight carries.

It was the first time two Herd backs went over 100 yards since Steward Butler and Grooms did it in a double-overtime win at Rice last season.

No Herd ball carrier ran more than eight times.

Senior Devon Smith went to the turf after catching a 58-yard bomb in the first quarter. He left the game with an apparent left leg injury, but returned in the second quarter, when he returned a punt 55 yards to the Southern Miss 7.

Butler, rumored to be in Holliday’s doghouse, had a 59-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

“He protected the ball,” Holliday said. “Butler will be fine.”

Justin Haig missed an extra-point try in the third quarter, breaking his personal streak of 102 successful PAT kicks. The team streak was 156, with the miss being Marshall’s first since Sept. 25, 2010, against Ohio.

The Eagles later blocked a PAT after Butler’s touchdown.

Marshall is 5-3 for the first time since 2009 and has four games to attain bowl-eligibility. The Herd will host UAB at noon Saturday on Comcast Sports South.

—E-mail: gfauber

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 041714 millard Kickoff time set for WVU-Alabama

    West Virginia football fans can now start counting down to the exact minute, instead of just the day.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Questions raised about Turnbull’s firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.

    April 17, 2014

  • Gettin’ ready for gobbler season: Step 4 — the setup

    This just in — in a recent study on turkey hunting and turkey hunters it was found that 98.7 percent of the time when hunters were unsuccessful when calling in a gobbler, the hunter made some mistake during the last 50 yards of the bird’s approach.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 wright Former Red Devil star realizing dream of playing D-I basketball

    When former Oak Hill High School standout Kalif Wright was a kid, he would play EA Sports’ NCAA March Madness video games and dream of one day getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • McClung moving from mound to dugout

    Seth McClung was getting his daughters Madison and Fallon inside and ready for their baths when his phone rang. He’s said before that he enjoys the role of “daddy day care.”

    April 15, 2014

  • First stop Waffle House; next stop The Greenbrier

    Bubba Watson decided to keep his post-Masters victory more low key this year. Instead of going to New York for a media tour, he headed home to Orlando, Fla., and kept plans for a five-day vacation with his wife.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pick 3: Cam Huffman's answers

    Is Mike D’Antoni the best hire for Marshall basketball if the Herd can land him?

    April 15, 2014

  • Pick 3: Gary Fauber's answers

    Is Mike D’Antoni the best hire for Marshall basketball if the Herd can land him?

    April 15, 2014

  • Polands share life, coaching

    Married since 2011, Ashley and Dan Poland share the good times and the bad times that every husband and wife face. Be it an unexpected tax refund or a busted water pipe, they go through it together.

    April 15, 2014

  • fayetteville Who needs the beach?

    The word seems to be getting out about the Spring Break Wood Bat Classic.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

NCAA Hoops
AP Video