Marshall fell behind early on due to the fumbled punt into the end zone, just four minutes into the game, as Jamar Newsome recovered the loose ball for the Knights of UCF. Two Nick Cattoi field goals, from 27 yards and 24 yards, had the Knights up by 13 points at the 8:29 mark of the second quarter.
Darius Marshall streaked in front of the UCF bench en route to running for 142 yards against the Knights on Saturday night. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Herd got a break on its next series when Kase Whitehead's punt hit a UCF player in the helmet and was recovered by the Herd's Lee Smith on the two-yard line. Chubb Small punched in a one-yard run after a penalty and the Herd cut the lead. But Marshall would give the ball, and the points, right back to UCF when the defense forced a three-and-out. Blake Clingan's punt was muffed by Marshall's Emmanuel Spann, and UCF's Reggie Weams recovered at the one-yard line.
Rob Calabrese's completed his only pass of the first half when he found tight end John Lubischer all alone in the end zone for a 20-7 lead, which the Knights would take to halftime. An ugly first half saw UCF have an edge in first downs, 10-to-3; an edge in total offense, 104-to-83 yards; and the Herd with a 14-yard passing half as Mark Cann hit just 2-of-10 with one interception.
Aaron Johnson sneaked through to block this UCF field goal attempt on a night when special teams play on both sides of the ball played a major part in the outcome of the game. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The second half looked like the Herd would get right back in the game. The offense went 75 yards on four plays on its second drive of the half, sparked by a 61-yard run by Darius Marshall. Cann would find Cody Slate for a 15-yard touchdown and the Herd cut the lead to 20-14.
UCF would add a field goal at the 3:02 mark of the third quarter, another 24 yard effort from Cattoi, and pushed the lead to 23-14. From there on, it was a lackluster effort from the offense and decent play by the defense in the fourth quarter as UCF didn't add the final touchdown, a 50-yard run for Brynn Harvey, until just 2:40 was left in the game. Cann had been replaced at quarterback by Brian Anderson with just over four minutes left, leaving next week's starter up in the air.
Cann played perhaps his worse game of the season, completing just 4-of-17 for 32 yards and two interceptions, both by UCF's Sha'reff Rashad. Anderson played the final four minutes and hit 3-of-12 for 52 yards including a 31-yard pass to Slate. Harvey of UCF piled up 150 yards rushing, on 33 carries, with one touchdown, but 50 came on the long, late touchdown run. Marshall matched that effort with D. Marshall rushing for 142 yards on just 16 carries, an average of 8.9 per carry.
Chubb Small scored this touchdown from one yard out to finally get Marshall on the scoreboard against UCF. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Special teams weren't for the Herd on a cold, rainy evening that saw Marshall's first loss to a Conference USA team when the temperature was below 50-degrees (at 39-degrees, and dropping, for this game). Whitehead misplay of a snap gave UCF one touchdown, while he punted for just a 39.6 average with only one punt inside the 20-yard line. The Herd did not get to attempt a field goal, which has already cost MU two wins. Spann muffed one kick, returning four for minus-seven yards. Marshall's three turnovers lead to 17 points for UCF, two on special teams.
In lighter news, Marshall fans were treated to the unveiling of a new Marco mascot prior to the UCF game. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Marshall now has to win out for bowl eligibility, with games next Saturday at Rice at 3 p.m. Eastern, and a home game on Nov. 29, Sr. Day against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in its first visit to Huntington. That game is a doubleheader with basketball, who plays Old Dominion at 11:30 a.m. while football kicks at 3:30 p.m.