A night of mistakes was too much for the Marshall Thundering Herd to overcome Friday night and Marshall fell to the C-USA East Division-leading Florida Atlantic Owls 30-25 in front of 15,880 fans at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida.
The Herd (6-3, 3-2) outgained FAU (6-3, 5-0) in total yards, first downs, and time of possession, but four costly turnovers doomed Marshall and the red-hot Owls increased their winning streak to five straight games while the Herd’s losing streak was extended to two straight games.
FAU got the ball to start the game and a 16-play, 74-yard drive was capped off when quarterback Jason Driskel found the end zone with his feet from 2 yards out to give the Owls a 7-0 lead with 9:50 remaining in the first quarter.
The Herd’s initial offensive possession of the game was a sign of things to come when quarterback Chase Litton was intercepted by FAU’s Jalen Young who returned the interception to the Marshall 19-yard line.
And on the next play, Willie Wright found the end zone from 19 yards out to extend FAU’s lead to 13-0 with 6:32 to go in the first quarter after the extra point was missed.
Marshall followed with a 13-play, 61-yard drive that took over seven minutes in duration, but the drive ultimately came up empty when Kaare Vedvik missed a 31-yard field goal attempt with 14:16 remaining in the second quarter.
The Owls’ offense drove the ball to the Marshall 45-yard line on its next possession, but the Herd’s defense came up with a fourth down stop to give its offense the ball back.
Marshall finally got on the scoreboard when after being forced into another field goal attempt, Vedvik connected this time around from 28 yards out to cut FAU’s lead down to 13-3 with 7:09 to go in the second quarter.
After forcing another Owls punt, the Herd’s offense began driving again. But the drive was thwarted when Litton was intercepted by FAU’s Shelton Lewis, setting up the Owls’ offense at its own 22-yard line with 5:11 remaining in the second quarter.
The FAU offense turned the interception into points when Greg Joseph connected on a 31-yard field goal with just 3 seconds to go in the second quarter to set the halftime score at 16-3 in favor of the Owls.
The Herd began the third quarter with the ball and made the most of it when a 7-play, 75-yard drive was capped off with a Litton touchdown pass to Ryan Yurachek from 5 yards out to cut the FAU lead down to 16-10 with 12:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Marshall decided to roll the dice on the ensuing kickoff and Vedvik’s onside kick was executed perfectly to set the Herd’s offense up at its own 46-yard line.
And the Herd made the Owls pay when Keion Davis punched it in the end zone from 1 yard out to tie the game at 16 with 7:27 to go in the third quarter, but the extra point that would have given Marshall the lead was missed.
After a couple changes of possession, the FAU offense began at its own 6-yard line. But the Owls brought out the tricks on the drive and after back-to-back trick plays, the Owls were in the end zone after Kamrin Solomon found Devin Singletary from 60 yards out to give FAU a 23-16 lead with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter.
After a couple more changes of possession, the Herd’s offense set up at its own 16-yard line. But unfortunately for Marshall, disaster struck again when Litton was intercepted for the third time on the night by FAU’s Young and the Owls’ offense took over at the Herd’s 41-yard line.
And FAU made the Herd pay when Singletary found the end zone from 13 yards out to extend the Owls’ lead up to 30-16 with 10:37 to go in the fourth quarter.
Marshall responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off when Litton connected with Yurachek for another touchdown, this time a 15-yard strike to cut the FAU lead down to 30-23 with 5:16 to go in the game.
The Herd’s defense forced an FAU punt to set the offense up at its own 19-yard line with one more chance to tie the game. But on fourth down, Litton was intercepted for the fourth time on the night by the Owls’ Young once again to put the game away for FAU.
The Owls were forced to punt again with 8 seconds to go and to avoid a disaster on the punt, FAU punter Ryan Rickel ran out of the back of the Owls’ own end zone for a Marshall safety, making the score 30-25 in favor of FAU with 8 seconds remaining.
The Herd had one final chance for a miraculous ending, but Marshall was unable to score on the ensuing kickoff as time expired and the Owls held on for a 30-25 win for their first-ever win over Marshall, first 5-0 start in conference play in program history, and have clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2008.
Driskel finished 11 for 17 for 104 yards on the night for FAU while Singletary continued his superstar season on the ground with 28 carries for 203 yards and one touchdown while also adding two receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown.
Harrison Bryant also added three receptions for 33 yards for the Owls and Azeez Al-Shaair led FAU defensively with 13 total tackles and four solo tackles while Young had three interceptions on the night.
Litton finished 20 for 39 for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but four interceptions for Marshall and Tyler King led the Herd on the ground with 22 carries for 72 yards.
Tyre Brady and Marcel Williams led all Marshall receivers with eight receptions and four receptions respectively with Brady adding 82 receiving yards and Williams adding 122 receiving yards.
Chase Hancock led the Herd defensively with 11 total tackles, five solo tackles, and 0.5 tackles-for-loss and Brandon Drayton finished with 10 total tackles, six solo tackles, and two tackles-for-loss.
With the loss, FAU is in firm control of C-USA’s East Division and Marshall’s East Division chances take a drastic and likely insurmountable hit. The Herd will look to get back on track at home Nov. 11 in a game with much significance to the Marshall program and nearby community.
Marshall hosts Western Kentucky just three days before the 47th anniversary of the tragic plane crash of November 14, 1970, and the program will be honoring the 75 lost. The Owls will look to keep their grasp on C-USA’s East Division Nov. 11 on the road at Louisiana Tech.