Tulsa, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Rakeem Cato passed for 456 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Marshall Thundering Herd to a 45-34 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in a Conference USA battle at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Cato completed 33-of-58 pass attempts and was intercepted once while under center for Marshall (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) and extended his school record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 28. Devon Smith made seven receptions for 114 yards and a score while Tommy Shuler reeled in nine catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Steward Butler paced the Thundering Herd on the ground with 75 yards on 10 attempts and Essray Taliaferro tallied 68 yards and a touchdown on 20 totes. Gator Hoskins, who entered the contest leading tight ends nationally in touchdown receptions, caught two more passes in the end zone to bring his season total to nine.
Dane Evans connected on just 13-of-39 attempts for 161 yards with one touchdown and an interception for Tulsa (2-8, 1-5), which had never lost to Marshall before in school history. Trey Watts racked up 169 yards and a pair of scores on 31 attempts while Thomas Robinson made four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. The Golden Hurricane's defensive unit registered five total takeaways, but it was not enough to help the team avoid its fourth loss in a row.
The Thundering Herd got off to a hot start and took a 7-0 lead as Cato threw a 28-yard strike to Shuler for a score less than three minutes after the opening kickoff. Cato also completed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Smith and a 22-yard throw to Hoskins for a score to give Marshall a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Golden Hurricane ended the run at the 12:11 mark of the second stanza as Watts concluded a nine-play, 93-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Tulsa narrowed the deficit with another impressive drive that Evans concluded with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Roberson.
Marshall responded as Cato tossed a six-yard touchdown pass to Hoskins with just under five minutes left in the first half. The visitors extended their lead to 31-14 just before halftime as Justin Haig converted a 31-yard field goal attempt.
Tulsa's defense played a big role as it rallied back after the intermission. After Marshall fielded the opening kickoff of the second half, D. Alexander sacked Cato and jarred the ball loose, which allowed Chris Hummingbird to record a fumble recovery at the Herd's 15-yard line. Evans rushed three yards for a score four plays later. Carl Salazar's extra-point attempt was blocked, which left the Herd in front by 11 points at 31-20.
Marshall turned the ball over again on its next drive as Kevin Grooms lost a fumble that Shawn Jackson recovered to give the Golden Hurricane's offense possession at their own 46-yard line. With the help of a personal foul penalty by Marshall's Evan McKelvey, Tulsa moved the ball down the field to put Watts in position for another one-yard touchdown run with just over eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. Watts completed a pass to Roberson on the ensuing two-point conversion try to bring the hosts within three points.
After Tulsa's defense forced a three-and-out, an 18-yard punt by Tyler Williams gave the hosts starting position at midfield for their next drive. The Golden Hurricane managed to break into the red zone before settling for a 29-yard field goal by Salazar that tied the score at 31-31 as the game progressed into the final frame.
Tulsa's run continued into the fourth quarter as it went on top, 34-31, with 12:27 left in regulation thanks to a made 30-yard field goal by Salazar.
Marshall finally ended its drought as Cato connected with Shuler for an 18- yard touchdown pass that put the Herd back in front, 38-34. The Herd's defense then made a key stop as Ra'Shawde Myers sacked Evans at Tulsa's 4-yard line on 4th-and-11. Taliaferro scored on a one-yard run on 2nd-and-goal to extend Marshall's lead to 45-34 with just under three minutes remaining.
Although the game went down to the wire, Marshall outgained Tulsa, 619-345, in total yards of offense and picked up 32 first downs compared to just 20 by the hosts.