Football: Marshall tramples Ohio as Bell tolls for Bobcats

Ohio quarterback J.D. Sprague is sacked by Marshall defensive lineman Steve Dillion during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Zak Kolesar0

Ohio quarterback J.D. Sprague is sacked by Marshall defensive lineman Steve Dillion during the fourth quarter of Saturday afternoon’s game. Photo by Zak Kolesar.

The Ohio Bobcats offense put on a magic show for the fans at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday against the Marshall Thundering Herd. It was the type of demonstration, a disappearing act, which Ohio coach Frank Solich did not want to be in attendance for.

After quarterback Derrius Vick began the day with a 53-yard completion to wide receiver Chase Cochran to jumpstart an 84-yard drive, any and all production from the Bobcats disappeared into a rabbit hole. The following four drives resulted in four punts and 60 yards.

Marshall, however, scored on its initial five drives of the game, cruising to a 44-14 defeat of the Ohio Bobcats.

“We didn’t necessarily just lose the game,” Ohio safety Nathan Carpenter said. “We got pretty much embarrassed on national television.”

The Thundering Herd struck the Bobcats in the Battle for the Bell rivalry for the first time in four years. Marshall was fueled by a prime performance from its quarterback, Rakeem Cato, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns.

The bell tolled frequently for the Ohio Bobcats (1-2, 1-0) following a hopeful start. While Vick and the Ohio offensive line were struggling to find a hint of chemistry, Cato and his receivers were putting on a passing clinic.

“This year they came out and made a lot of explosive plays,” Carpenter said. “They threw a lot of deep-ball plays … which obviously shocked our defense.”

Cato was able to squeeze two tight passes into the hands of wide receiver Davonte Allen for consecutive touchdowns in the first quarter. The 25- and six-yard scores respectively gave the Thundering Herd a 17-0 lead heading into the second quarter of play.

“We have not been a team that’s an experienced offensive football team that’s able to counter what they were able to do offensively,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said.

Marshall (3-0) headed into the half with a comfortable 27-point lead, but Cato and company continued to pour it on in the second half. At this point the Bobcat defense looked absolutely gassed in all phases of the game. Cato was cutting apart the Ohio secondary with pure precision.

Marshall’s scoring success on offense continued for a seventh series when Cato hooked up with wide receiver Angelo Jean-Louis on a 77-yard catch and run. The Thundering Herd pitched a snug 41-0 shutout through the first 35 minutes, and Ohio appeared punch less.

“We were shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties after we would get positive yards on first down,” Vick said. “We couldn’t get points on the board.”

The Bobcats finally found the end zone midway through the third quarter, moving the ball the best they had all Saturday. Vick finished the 10-play, 75-yard drive with a seven-yard pass to Sebastian Smith to put Ohio on the board. In the fourth quarter J.D. Sprague relieved Vick, scoring on a seven-yard pass of his own to wide receiver Ian Dixon.

After being on the road for the first three games, Ohio will be playing at Peden Stadium for the first time this season on Saturday. Kickoff against Idaho is set for 7 p.m.

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