Dec. 26, 2009
DETROIT, Mich. – The Marshall Thundering Herd got up by three touchdowns early and held off a game Ohio squad 21-17 Saturday afternoon in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field. Marshall finished its campaign at 7-6, while Ohio finished at 9-5.
Marshall’s Darius Marshall and Martin Ward combined for 149 yards on 29 carries, while Ward also had a career-high two rushing touchdowns. Herd quarterback Brian Anderson completed 12 of 17 passes for just 85 yards with four of those going to Chuck Walker for 35 yards.
Marshall linebacker Mario Harvey had 12 tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup to lead the MU defensive effort.
Ohio was led offensively by quarterback Theo Scott’s 14-for-26 effort, which yielded 111 yards, one touchdown toss and one interception. Senior wideout Taylor Price caught four passes for 49 yards and senior running back Chris Garrett had 10 carries for 30 yards. As a team, the Bobcats were held to just 12 yards on 24 carries.
Linebacker Noah Keller’s 17 tackles on the day gave the junior 155 total tackles this season, the best defensive effort for the Bobcats in more than 15 seasons. The total also places Keller in Ohio’s all-time top 10 for single-season tackles.
Marshall jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the Bobcats, behind a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter and a third score on a two-yard rush by Martin Ward in the second quarter.
An explosive play from Ohio defensive back Shannon Ballard put the Bobcats on the scoreboard with 5:25 remaining in the second quarter.
Defensive lineman Jeff King forced a fumble on Ohio’s 25-yard line, which was picked up by Ballard and returned 75 yards to the end zone.
The score marked Ohio’s ninth non-offensive touchdown of the season and first fumble recovery resulting in a touchdown on the year. It also marked the first fumble return for a touchdown in the history of the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and the longest defensive return on record for the bowl.
Marshall threatened the end zone again on the very next drive, but was held in the red zone by Ohio’s defense, with Keller making the stop on fourth down at the Ohio four yard line.
Coming out of halftime, the Ohio defense held Marshall to a pair of three-and-outs, setting up an opportunity to close the gap further.
With 7:11 remaining in the third quarter, Scott connected with junior receiver Terrence McCrae for an 8-yard touchdown pass to cap a five-play, 37-yard drive. Another extra point from Freshman All-American Matt Weller pulled the Bobcats to within one score.
The touchdown pass was Scott’s 20th of the season, setting a new single-season school record for touchdown passes. It was also the ninth touchdown reception of the season for McCrae, which tied the school record for single-season touchdown receptions, set in 2007 by tight end Andrew Mooney.
A third three-and-out forced by the Ohio defense led to very good field position for the Bobcats, as junior Chad Clemens blocked the ensuing punt by Marshall’s Kase Whitehead out of bounds, giving Ohio the ball on the Marshall 35. The block was Ohio’s fifth blocked kick of the 2009 season.
Three plays later, Weller connected on a 46-yard field goal with 4:38 left in the third quarter to bring the score to 21-17 in favor of Marshall.
The field goal was Weller’s 21st of the season, setting a new school record for field goals made in a single season, both for the team and for Weller individually.
The Bobcats had a chance to pull to within one, but a missed 29-yard field goal killed the drive at the Marshall 12 with 10:23 left to play.
Two possessions later, Ohio forced Marshall into a 41-yard field goal attempt and took over at its own 23-yard line after the Herd kick hit the left upright with 57 seconds left.
However, three plays later, Marshall’s DeQuan Bembry picked off the Bobcats at the Ohio 27-yard line and the Herd ran out the clock on the next down.
The 2009 Ohio senior class made a significant mark on the program’s history by becoming the only class to go to two bowl games and by winning more games (28) than any class in 40 years.