Published January 08, 2015
Birmingham, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Ra'Shawde Myers recovered a fumble in the end zone with 7:35 remaining and No. 18 Marshall remained undefeated with a 23-18 win over UAB on Saturday.
With its offense struggling, Marshall overcame an 18-17 deficit with big plays on special teams and defense.
The Thundering Herd downed Tyler Williams' punt at the 1-yard line and Arnold Blackmon stripped UAB quarterback Cody Clements in the end zone on third down.
The ball ended up with Myers, whose touchdown gave Marshall (11-0, 7-0 C-USA) its 12th straight win dating back to last December's Military Bowl.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday said there was "no question" the defense won the game for his team.
"When they had to make a play they did," he said. "We punted them down there and they got the touchdown off Arnold Blackmon down there and they ended up having to make a stop (at the end of the game) and they did.
"I've said it a lot of times, it's hard to go 11, 12 games and not have to grind one out. That's unusual, I've never had that."
Rakeem Cato passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns for Marshall, but threw an interception in the fourth quarter then led to a go-ahead touchdown for UAB.
Devon Johnson rushed for 171 yards and Tommy Shuler had 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in the win. Angelo Jean-Louis scored Marshall's other touchdown on a tipped pass in the first half.
Jordan Howard had 168 yards rushing and two touchdowns for UAB (5-6, 3-4), which has one more game left to attempt to become bowl eligible for the second time in program history.
Clements threw for 141 yards and Shaq Jones had the interception that led to Howard's go-ahead 10-yard score in the fourth quarter.
UAB's final 17-play drive ended on the Marshall 10-yard line with a failed fourth-down try.
"We talked before about moral victories and that is not us," said UAB coach Bill Clark. "That is not what we are about. I am so proud of (our players). With all the adversity and turmoil that has been surrounding them, to come out here and fight like they did today was unbelievable. That is what I expected. That's how we practiced this week."
A 1-yard touchdown by Howard capped UAB's opening drive in the second half and drew the Blazers within 17-12 after a two-point conversion attempt failed.
The next four Marshall drives ended in a punt, a fumble, a failed fourth-down try and the interception by Jones.
The Thundering Herd are fighting to earn the College Football Playoff's guaranteed berth in one of the six New Year's bowls for a team outside the traditional five power conferences.
They have yet to be included in the CFB's weekly top-25 rankings even though they were one of just two unbeaten teams entering this week, the other being reigning national champion Florida State.
Justin Haig missed a 23-yard field goal try at the end of Marshall's first drive and Ty Long kicked a 36-yarder for UAB later in the first quarter.
Cato's 28-yard touchdown pass to Shuler gave the Thundering Herd a 7-3 lead with 3:46 remaining in the quarter.
Cato spun out of a sack and got lucky on his second touchdown throw, which went off the hands of UAB cornerback Jimmy Jean near the 15-yard line and caught by Jean-Louis for a 43-yard score in the second quarter. The play came after Long hit a 40-yard field goal for UAB.
Haig's 33-yarder as time ran out in the first half gave Marshall a 17-6 lead.
Marshall finishes the regular season on Friday against Western Kentucky ... UAB ends the regular season next Saturday at Southern Mississippi. The Blazers played in their only bowl game in 2004, losing to Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.