TULSA, Okla. - Marshall University overcame four second-half turnovers and quarterback Rakeem Cato threw five touchdown passes as the Thundering Herd defeated Tulsa 45-34 on Thursday night.
After piling up 371 yards of total offense and building a 31-14 lead by halftime, Marshall had trouble holding onto the football. Four of its first five possessions resulted in a fumble and the Golden Hurricane took advantage by scoring 20 unanswered points.
Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans got the ball rolling with a 3-yard touchdown run at the 12:44 mark of the third quarter. On Marshall's next drive, the first of two Shawn Jackson fumble recoveries gave Tulsa possession at its own 46. The Golden Hurricane marched downfield and Trey Watts scored from a yard out to cut the Marshall lead to 31-28 just seven minutes into the second half.
Marshall, which came into the game with college football's 10th most prolific scoring offense, was forced to punt and Tulsa answered with a 29-yard field goal from Carl Salazar with 4:43 left in the period.
Just before the quarter ended, Tulsa put itself in position to take its first lead of the game. Marshall running back Remy Watson coughed up the ball just as the Thundering Herd crossed midfield, and again it was Salazar coming through on the ensuing possession- this time on a 30-yard field goal for a 34-31 Golden Hurricane advantage.
Marshall finally snapped its second-half shutout drought when Cato connected with Tommy Shuler for an 18-yard scoring strike with 3:47 remaining in regulation.
As added insurance, the Thundering Herd struck again when Evans was sacked for a 20-yard loss near his own end zone on fourth down. Marshall needed just four plays to tack on seven more points as running back Essray Taliaferro scored from a yard out.
Cato finished the game completing 33-of-58 passes for 456 yards. Two Thundering Herd receivers went over the 100-yard barrier - Shuler hauling in nine catches for 105 yards and Devon Smith recording seven catches for 114 yards. Shuler and teammate Gator Hoskins both caught two touchdowns receptions.
In the rushing department, Marshall's Steward Butler gained 75 yards on 10 carries and Taliaferro got the call 20 times for 68 yards.
For Tulsa, Watts surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season after finishing with 169 yards on 31 attempts to go with two touchdowns.
Marshall improves to 7-3 and 5-1 in Conference USA, and remains tied with East Carolina in the East Division. Thundering Herd coach Doc Holliday improved to 24-23 at Marshall and moved past the .500 mark for the time since taking over the program.
Tulsa drops its fourth straight game and falls to 2-8, and 0-5.