Football

Marshall wins “Battle for the Bell” 44-14 over Ohio U.

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HUNTINGTON — Another monster day for the Herd offense — becoming the first time in school history that Marshall had back-to-back games with over 700 yards of total offense, and only the fifth time all-time to top that number — and great defense by the Thundering Herd led Marshall to a win in the “Battle for the Bell,” beating Ohio University 44-14 on Saturday at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The Herd broke a three-game losing streak to the Bobcats and gathered its biggest win over Ohio since the 1999 Marshall team won 34-3 on the way to an undefeated season. Marshall is now 3-0 to start the season, while Ohio is 1-2 in starting the year with three road games, but 1-0 in their Mid-American Conference thanks to an opening game win at Kent State, 17-14.

Marshall still trails in the all-time series, back to a Marshall win in 1905, by 20-32-6, but the Herd is now 7-3 in the last 10 games with their rivals from Athens, Ohio, just a short 90-minute drive from Huntington. Herd fans were out in number for the Ohio game, with the 14th biggest crowd in Marshall history at 31,710 — the third time Ohio has been involved in a top 14 crowd at Marshall since the stadium opened in 1991.

Marshall senior quarterback Rakeem Cato threw for four touchdowns and 425 yards, while junior Steward Butler rushed for 119 yards and junior Devon Johnson had 91 yards and a 30-yard touchdown. Davonte Allen led Marshall with 5 catches (for 137 yards) and two touchdowns, while frosh Angelo Jean-Louis led the Herd with 158 yards (on four catches), including a 77-yard touchdown, the longest of his and Cato’s career. Senior Tommy Shuler had four catches for 76 yards, and made a sensational catch against the back line of the end zone to score on a 19-yard touchdown just before halftime to give Marshall a 27-0 lead.

Freshman Hyleak Foster had a career day with 3 catches for 50 yards, and senior corner Darryl Roberts had a career day with 11 tackles, 5 solo, and 2 passes broken up. Justin Haig was perfect on four extra-points, and his 3-of-4 field goals, hitting from 34, 36 and 37 yards, but missing from 39, while Tyler Williams punted once for 56 yards.

Marshall will wrap-up the out-of-conference schedule next Saturday, traveling to face a third former rival from the Mid-American Conference in the Akron Zips, who are 1-1 and off this weekend after beating FCS Howard and losing to Penn State. The game will be on ESPN3, and kickoffs at Akron at 2 p.m. next week. The Herd has an open date on Sept. 27 before starting Conference USA play at Old Dominion on Oct. 4.

Here is what the Herd and Bobcats coaches and players had to say about the game, in their own words: 

Doc Holliday, Marshall head coach, who picked up his 10th straight home win

On overall game:

“I think that the one thing we talked about at the press conference, (on) Tuesday, was that we had to be the better team today in all three phases. Last year we weren’t, and they were. I think that we came out today and played well in all three phases and the result is because of that.”

On the game being an “easy” win:

“I don’t think it was very easy, to be honest, or it wasn’t easy to me. I felt that it would have been a solid defense going in. I thought offensively, building that offense, they did a tremendous job. They executed and again our outside receivers came up with some big plays. If we continue to get production out of those outside guys, number one it is going to open up the run game and (Tommy) Shuler and those inside guys will be more productive. Overall, I think we are pretty balanced. We were running and throwing it. If we continue that then we have a chance.”

On the Herd’s running game (257 yards, 1 touchdown):

“Early on, I think that they wanted us to run the ball a little bit. The one thing that we were able to do, is they played that corner-press coverage, and we were able to run by those corners and make some outside plays. That helps us. Regardless, if they had that extra hat in the box, those corners were always one on one. If you can’t win outside, you have problems, and we were able to win today.”

On setting the tone for the game:

“We always talk about setting the tone for the game. I think Raheem Waiters set that tone, at that first kick-off. He went down there and made a big time play. He ended up completing that long ball. Number eight (Ohio wide receiver, Chase Cochran), is a good football player. It was huge that our defense stood their ground right there. I thought that was a critical part of that game for the defense to get that stop even after giving up that big play. I thought the defense played tremendous. We get some guys in there in the end and we would like to see those guys step up. We had some trouble getting them lined up at times. We were playing a lot of different players and trying to get some of those guys out. When we play those guys they need to be able to play and get people stopped, that the one thing I was disappointed with the young players.

On winning the “Battle for the Bell”:

“(Our players) take pride in winning the game. They like ringing it. I’m just concerned about winning the game, not so much as winning the bell.”

Davonte Allen, MU redshirt junior wide receiver, who caught 5 passes for 137 yards and 2 scores

On finally beating Ohio:

“It’s a great feeling, being here for three years and seeing us finally execute a game plan well. Today, we came out early, fast and stepped on the pedal. In all areas, everything was executed well. From the score, you can tell it was.”

On the connection he and quarterback Rakeem Cato share:

“We’ve been working all season. I tell him to throw the ball up and I’ll be there. I’m going to try my best to go get it and no one else will come down with it. He’s got that confidence in me.”

Clint Van Horn, MU redshirt junior offensive lineman

On ‘The Bell’ returning to Huntington:

“It feels amazing. I haven’t had it since I’ve been here. We’ve been game planning all week; we wanted to be prepared. We watched a lot of film – I probably watched more this week than I have any other week.”

Rakeem Cato, MU senior quarterback, who threw for 425 yards and 4 touchdowns in the game

On the improvisation on plays like one he had with wide receiver Angelo Jean-Louis on a 77-yard touchdown:

“That’s just (Angelo) making a play. The pocket was clean and I just saw him and threw the ball. He made a great play with a great run. That’s all him.”

On finally adding ‘Beat Ohio’ to his resume:

“It’s a blessing just to win this ball game. It’s great for the Herd to win for the first time in three years, and they’re a tough team, so this is a great win. We came out on fire and just kept it going.”

On having receivers like Davonte Allen and Angelo Jean-Louis to go to:

“Those guys are great. They are great wide-outs, and they go hard every day. They’re willing to get better and listen to what Coach Legg has to say and understand what he wants to do with this offense. To see those guys making big plays, that’s a blessing for our offense.”

Darryl Roberts, MU redshirt senior defensive back, who led Marshall with 11 tackles and 2 passes broken up

On shutting down the Ohio offense:

“We didn’t really make any adjustments. The coaches talked to us, and we knew we just had to zone in our techniques. We had to do the little things. It makes a big difference when offense can go down and make big play drives. The crowd gets into and you get momentum, and we just feed off each other.”

On the moment he realized Marshall had the win:

“From the moment we got on the field, from that first kickoff, we all told ourselves we weren’t going to let the game go. We wanted this one and we knew we just had to stay on top.”

Frank Solich, Ohio head coach, now 3-3 versus Marshall

On progress made with the Ohio offense:

“I was pleased with the fact that they hung in there and continued to battle. They were able to put some drives together and were able to find a way to put points on the board. When you get into those kinds of situations, sometimes it snowballs on you and you’re not able to get anything done. I thought we were able at times to do some things athletically from the offensive side that gives us some hope that we can have this young offensive football team grow and continue to develop.”

On Derrius Vick returning at quarterback:

“I think it’s very important for us and for him to come back and play well. He’s a great competitor so I didn’t doubt that he would give 100 percent with everything that he was doing. I thought he made good decisions today. Sometimes you can be trying awfully hard, but the decision-making process isn’t good, so the game doesn’t come away as being good. But I thought he played well today.”

Nathan Carpenter, Ohio redshirt senior safety, who had 3 tackles, a pass breakup and an interception

On preparing for the end of Ohio’s non-conference schedule:

“We had a tough three-game stretch on the road. We won our first game, which was a huge high point. We played arguably the two toughest teams on our schedule, both away, in pretty big atmospheres. We didn’t get a win at either place, so we need to turn it around and go back home for a while and get home wins.”

On handling Marshall’s offense:

“You need to make a team one-dimensional in order to win the game. When you’re dealing with Marshall, they’re a great team. There’s a reason they’re supposed to go undefeated. There’s a reason they have a dark horse Heisman candidate. They have unbelievably talented athletes. They made a lot of plays today. It seemed like nothing could go our way. They had a lot of unbelievable catches that not a lot of guys have seen before. We clearly did not stop either the run or the pass today.”

Notebook:

It was Hall of Fame Weekend at Marshall, with the 30th Anniversary Class of 2014 inducted into MU’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday night, then honored before the game on Saturday. The class included Tyrone Collins — Basketball, 1970-73; David Coyle — Wrestling, 1977-79; Sierra Davenport — Softball, 2001-04; Albie DeYoung — Baseball, 1975-78; Lindsay Jayjack — Soccer, 1999-2002; Tamar Slay — Basketball 1999-2002; Darius Watts — Football, 2000-03; and Milan Zban — Baseball and Football, 1951-54. Collins and Zban are deceased, but were represented by their families, and all of the inductees and families were also the guests of the Marshall M Club at its tailgate plaza.

It was old coaches weekend, it seemed, as well at Marshall. In the crowd on Saturday was former Thundering Herd Head Football Coaches Jack Lengyel (1971-74), Frank Ellwood (1975-78, along with son, Todd, a former Herd player and other family) and Bob Pruett (1996-2004), as well as former Herd defensive coordinator, and recent head coach at James Madison, Mickey Matthews, and former Lengyel assistant, and former MU player, Mickey Jackson.

Lengyel was in for the game as well as the Marcelo Lajterman Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, which included the brothers of the kicker — one of 75 persons lost on the MU football crash of Nov. 14, 1970 — Abe and Moe Lajterman, and the brother of another player lost that weekend, Tom Shoebridge, brother of the late Ted Shoebridge, quarterback of the 1970 team. According to Ted Wilson, former Herd business manager and ramrod of the tournament, thanks to all who participated the golf tournament is in line to again present Marshall with a large check for the Big Green Scholarship Foundation.

Head coach Doc Holliday improved to 30-24 as MU’s head coach, and is now sixth in coaching wins with Marshall football behind Bob Pruett (94-23, 1996-2004), “Crafty” Cam Henderson (68-46-5, 1935-1942, 1946-49), Jim Donnan (64-21, 1990-95), George Chaump (33-16-1, 1986-89) and Boyd “Fox” Chambers (31-25-4, 1909-16), and is 6th in winning percentage among coaches at .556 since taking over in 2010 (for coaches with a minimum of four years coaching Marshall football).

Many former Herd players in the crowd on Saturday for the Ohio game, including Mark Mitchell, Todd Ellwood, Sly Drobney, Mike Williams, Ed Hamrick, Mike Hamrick, Allen Meadows, Mickey Jackson, Danny White, Bob Lester, Howie Lee Miller, Ron Lemon, Eric Ihnat, Danny Stephans, Steve Williams, Steve Morton, Chris Deaton, Dave Walsh, Randy Hawkins, Brian O’Dell and Carl Lee, along with former football manager Rob Stepp (and those other Woodrum boys), and that’s just the ones I got to talk to before heading up to the press box.

Marshall game captains versus Ohio, as chosen by Coach Doc Holliday and his staff, were quarterback Rakeem Cato, offensive tackle Clint Van Horn, cornerback Darryl Roberts and defensive tackle James Rouse. It is the second game captaincy this season for Cato and Roberts. Rouse has been a three-time captain (one of those replacing A.J. Leggett, who was injured and did not dress for the Rhode Island game). It is Van Horn’s first captaincy this season. He was a captain for the 2013 home game vs. UAB (Nov. 9).

Defensive end Armonze Daniel and offensive lineman Trevor Mendelson made their first career starts for the Herd today, at rush end and left tackle, respectively.

Quarterback Rakeem Cato’s streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass is now at 35, which leads active FBS quarterbacks. The NCAA record of 38 belongs to Russell Wilson (N.C. State and Wisconsin, 2009-11). Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is second among current FBS quarterbacks, with 28 games heading into today’s home game vs. Wyoming. Cato’s first quarter touchdown pass was the 200th of his high school (103) and college (97) careers. He passed 20,000 yards last week (entered today’s game with 20,116), and with four touchdown passes in the game joined Chad Pennington as the only two Marshall QBs with triple-digit touchdown passes, 100 for Cato and 115 for Pennington.

Cato, with 425 passing yards, recorded the fifth 400-yard air game of his career. The 425 yards rank fourth on his single-game list, as he threw for 456 in the win at Tulsa in 2013, threw for 439 yards in a loss at Purdue, 432 in a loss at Ohio and 413 yards in a loss at West Virginia, all in 2012. With 17 completions today, Cato is now only one behind Byron Leftwich for career completions, with Cato now at 938 and Leftwich at 939, with Pennington the leader at 1,026.

Cato now has 64 “red zone” touchdown passes and just two interceptions (at Tulsa in 2013, and today vs. Ohio). His 61-yard completion to Angelo Jean-Louis (with 11:30 to play in the 2nd quarter) is longest of the Herd’s season and longest non-touchdown completion of Cato’s career (third-longest overall in his career), and his 77 yard touchdown to Jean-Louis in the third quarter trumped the earlier pass for longest of the season and the longest of Cato’s career.

Wide receiver Davonte Allen’s two touchdown catches today match his career high (in last season’s Herd win over UAB, Nov. 9). He finished with a career-high 137 yards and has matched his career best five catches (last week vs. Rhode Island).

Wide receiver Tommy Shuler’s 2nd-quarter touchdown catch moved him to 19 for his career into sole possession of No. 11 on all-time Herd list. (No. 10 Jim Swierczek is at 22). Shuler’s streak of consecutive games with a reception is now at 30 (the streak started in 2011 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl), while the Marshall record is 42-straight, set by John “Fuzzy” Filliez from 1973-76

Shuler is now at 241 career catches, only 8 behind Barber (1985-88) at 249 in third place. Darius Watts, who entered the MU HOF this weekend, is No. 2 with 272 (2000-03), while Josh Davis leads all MU receivers with 306 (2001-04). Shuler is 9th in receiving yards with 2,609, just 10 yards behind No. 8 Cody Slate (2,619, 2006-09), and is now in 11th at MU in touchdown catches with 19, breaking a tie with Nate Poole (1997-2000), LaVorn Colclough (1995-97) and Antavious Wilson (2009-12), who are now tied for 12th with 18 scores.

The Marshall offense had seven plays of 10 or more yards in first quarter, and the Herd’s offense had 12 plays of 10 or more yards in first half.  The top yardage days for the MU offense are 789 yards versus VMI in 1991; 733 yards versus Buffalo in 2002; 726 yards against Akron in 2001; 724 yards last week against Rhode Island; and 705 yards today versus Ohio. This is the 16th time in the last 29 games that Marshall has had at least 500 yards total offense.

Cornerback Darryl Roberts recorded a career-high 11 tackles on the day, and led the Herd with 5 solo tackles and tied fellow corner Corey Tindal with 2 passes broken up in the game.

The Ohio interception to start the fourth quarter by Nathan Carpenter ended Rakeem Cato’s longest streak without an interception in his career. Cato had gone 16 quarters and 152 pass attempts — both personal records — without being picked until the first play of the fourth quarter.

The new Marshall cheerleading coach is Jacob Gilliam. Gilliam, a Wayne native and Marshall alumnus, cheered for the Thundering Herd from 2008-10 before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He has served as a coach at the high school level for over two years, most recently as the assistant coach at Wayne High School. From July 2012 through May 2014, Gilliam served as the head cheerleading coach at Morgantown High School, along with teaching at South Middle School. After graduating from Marshall in December 2011, Gilliam received his master’s degree in school health in May 2014 from West Virginia University.

Notes from Jack Bogaczyk and Woody Woodrum of HI staff.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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