(Saturday, September 10th)
Final Score:Marshall 26 Southern Mississippi 20
Huntington, WV (Sports Network) - True freshman Rakeem Cato earned his first collegiate victory as Marshall hung on to beat Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA opener for both teams. Cato completed 27-of-42 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns in his first appearance at Joan Edwards Stadium.
Aaron Dobson was Cato's primary target as he caught seven passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. George Carpenter led the Thundering Herd's defense with 13 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Vinny Curry also contributed three sacks and a safety for Marshall (1-1, 1-0 C-USA).
Austin Davis led the Golden Eagles (1-1, 0-1) offensively completing 25-of-49 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. However, Davis also tossed three interceptions and was sacked five times. Francisco Llanos led Southern Miss receivers with 132 yards on five catches with two touchdowns.
Marshall scored on their second drive on a 32-yard Tyler Warner field goal to take the first lead of the game 3-0 just passed the midway point in the first quarter.
The Golden Eagles answered on the following possession with a 72-yard drive that was capped by a 13-yard Davis touchdown pass to Llanos.
Southern Miss extended their lead on the opening drive of the second quarter as kicker Danny Hrapmann connected from 36 yards to make it 10-3.
After being pinned deep in their own territory, Southern Miss struck as Davis found Llanos yet again. Llanos shook off a few Marshall defenders as he darted down the field for a 90-yard touchdown reception to extend the lead to 17-3.
The Thundering Herd gave the home crowd some hope late in the opening half. Cato threw to Dobson for a 10-yard score to bring Marshall back within one touchdown.
Marshall linebacker George Carpenter quickly made up for the defense's poor tackling displayed in the first half. On the Golden Eagles' first play from scrimmage in the second half, Carpenter jarred the ball lose from Kendrick Hardy and recovered the fumble at the Southern Miss 35 yard line.
Marshall capitalized on the short field. Cato found Gator Hoskins for an 11- yard touchdown to tie the score at 17 just less than two minutes into the third quarter.
The Golden Eagles continued to struggle on their next possession. After being stopped on a third and twelve, the Marshall special teams blocked the attempted punt giving the Thundering Herd the ball on their opponent's 22-yard line. The Southern Miss defense was able to force a Marshall three and out, which was followed by a missed field goal by Warner.
Late in the third quarter, Marshall took over at midfield. This time the Southern Miss defense would not be able to hold them. The Thundering Herd took a 24-17 lead as Cato threw 17 yards as he completed a touchdown pass to Dobson for the second time of the afternoon.
Four minutes into the final quarter, Marshall punter Kase Whitehead pinned Southern Miss at their own goal line. Vinny Curry tackled Hardy in the end zone for a safety on the following play giving Marshall a 26-17 lead with just over ten minutes remaining.
The Marshall defense was not done for the evening. As Southern Miss drove into the Thundering Herd's territory, Devin Arrington forced William Spight to fumble to end the Golden Eagles scoring chances.
Southern Miss cut the lead to six as Hrapmann made a 28-yard field goal with 1:22 left. The Golden Eagles then successfully recovered the onside kick giving them the possession trailing 26-20. However, the Golden Eagles could not capitalize on their new found momentum and eventually fell by a six-point margin.
This is the first Marshall victory over Southern Mississippi in Huntington.
09/10 22:40:46 ET