Tigers Comeback Falls Short In 38-28 Setback At Marshall
Nov. 3, 2012
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Tigers' "never-give-up" attitude was evident Saturday despite the 38-28 Conference USA setback to Marshall. Before a crowd of 22,041 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Memphis (1-8, 1-4 C-USA) fought back from a 31-7 deficit midway in the third period and cut the Thundering Herd (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) advantage to only three points at 31-28 with nearly 10 minutes left on the clock, but could get no closer.
After Rakeem Cato tossed the third of his four touchdown passes with 7:39 left in the third quarter, Marshall held a seemingly commanding 31-7 advantage and was cruising to the win. The Tigers, however, were not done and began their march on the next possession.
Memphis started the ensuing drive on its own 29 yard line, and the Tigers took 14 plays to hit pay dirt to cut the Marshall lead to 31-14. Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam accounted for 55 of the 71 yards on the drive, passing for 35 yards and rushing for 20. The possession culminated in a Karam one-yard touchdown toss to Jesse Milleson, his first scoring catch of the season.
After the score, an unsportsmanlike penalty on Marshall moved the Tigers kickoff to midfield, and Memphis took advantage. The Tigers executed an on-side kick to perfection and recovered it at the Marshall 39. Nine plays later, Memphis sliced the Herd lead to 31-21 on a Jai Steib two-yard touchdown run. Karam was 3-of-5 passing for 28 yards on the drive.
The Memphis defense stepped up on Marshall's next possession, forcing a three-and-out and a punt. The Tigers took over on their own 35 yard line and used some additional trickery en route to another score. After a Herd sack on third down, Memphis was forced to send the punting unit on the field, and it looked as if the Tigers' comeback efforts had ended.
Memphis, though, pulled a fake punt on a 4th-and-10 when punter Tom Hornsey and defensive back Bobby McCain hooked up on a 61-yard connection that moved the Tigers inside the Marshall 5 yard line. Two plays later, Steib rushed to the Herd 1, where he fumbled the ball into the end zone. Luckily for Memphis, offensive lineman Jordan Devey fell on the loose ball for his first career touchdown. With the score, the Tigers cut the Marshall lead to 31-28 with just under 10 minutes left.
Marshall, however, responded immediately to regain momentum. The Herd put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive to extend their lead back to double digits at 38-28. Cato hooked up with Davonte Allen for a 28-yard score, and the touchdown pass was Cato's fourth of the contest.
The Tigers attempted to answer the Marshall score on their next possession and moved the ball to the Herd 31 yard line, where it turned the ball over on downs.
In the first half, Marshall jumped out to an early 10-0 advantage in the first quarter. Cato threw the first of his four touchdowns, and Justin Haig kicked a 41-yard field goal. Memphis answered with a Steib five-yard touchdown run, but Marshall responded with three-straight touchdowns for a 31-7 lead before Memphis made its comeback.
Karam paced the Memphis offense with 170 yards on 21-of-31 passing and one score. His favorite target was Marcus Rucker, who caught six passes for 44 yards. Brandon Hayes led the rushing attack with 60 yards on 22 carries.
The Memphis defense stymied the Herd ground attack, holding Marshall to 92 yards on 27 rushes. Cato, though, was the Herd's offensive star of the game, totaling 341 yards through the air on 34-of-44 passing. Allen led Marshall's receiving corps with 87 yards on four catches and a score.
Robert Steeples led the Tigers defense with nine total tackles, one TFL and one pass breakup. Cannon Smith and Akeem Davis added eight tackles apiece. McCain had seven tackles in addition to his 61-yard reception on fourth down and a 52 kickoff return.
The Herd's Billy Mitchell led five Marshall players in double-digit tackles with 13 total stops.
The Tigers return to action Saturday, Nov. 10 when they host Tulane at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Game time is 6 p.m. (CT).