Despite only possessing the ball on offense 22:37 (compared to Ohio's 37:23), Marshall made the most of their opportunities, utilizing short, quick scoring drives to roll over the Bobcats. The first three scores of the game all featured The Byron Leftwich-to-Darius Watts Experience. Watts hauled in the first score on a 26-yard Leftwich pass into the sunny south endzone at Marshall Stadium, capping a short 2-play, 48-yard drive that only consumed 0:34 of game clock. With 9:26 left in the second, Leftwich hit Watts with one of his cruise-missile heater passes, this one a 3-yarder, to put Marshall up 14-0.
"Missed tackles and a few key turnovers were the key," Ohio coach Brian Knorr said. "Watts, even last year, is the most talented receiver in the conference."
"With all the weapons Marshall has...we could not focus just on him."
Darius Watts catches his fourth TD of the night over Ohio defensive back Bop White.
Just 6:15 later, Leftwich zipped another 9-yarder to Watts, ending a relatively long 6-play, 84-yard scoring drive. Ohio's Chris Knaack caught a 4-yard pass from quarterback Freddie Ray with only 25 seconds left in the half for Ohio's first score of the game. Marshall took a comfy 21-6 lead at the half, as Ohio's Kevin Kerr missed the extra point attempt.
The second half saw two more Ohio scores, but not before Marshall running back Trod Buggs ran into the endzone untouched after catching a short 3-yard Leftwich pass on Marshall's first possession of the half. Ohio's two scores (one a run by Jamel Patterson, the other on a Stafford Owens 17-yard catch), pulled the Bobcats within 17 points, at 35-18.
Marshall iced the cake midway through the fourth quarter, as wide receiver Curtis Jones pulled in the sixth Leftwich touchdown pass with 7:28 left, a 29-yarder. That scoring drive lasted only 1:02, and sealed the final score at 42-18.
Immediately after the game, Marshall coach Bob Pruett accepted an invitation from the GMAC Bowl's Jerry Silverstein, to face an as-yet unnamed opponent in the December 19 bowl game in Mobile, Alabama. The bowl berth breaks Marshall's string of four consecutive Motor City Bowl appearances in Detroit, Michigan.
"We are excited about the opportunity to play in the GMAC Bowl, and I know our fans will travel well to Mobile and give them a big crowd," was Marshall coach Bob Pruett's assessment of his team's bowl berth.
On offense, Marshall racked up 399 yards in the air, all via Leftwich. Watts' four TD catches capped a 10-catch, 136-yard night for the sophomore receiver. Trod Buggs led the ground attack with 10 carries for 90 yards, as MU gained 132 yards on 24 carries. Ohio, meanwhile, did run for 318 yards, but could only chalk up 86 passing yards in the loss.
On defense, Marshall was led by Michael 'Kool-Aid' Owens' 10.5 tackles, and Charlie Tynes' 5 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one sack of Ohio quarterback Freddie Ray. Alonzo Jones had a 26-yard interception return, as well.
With the win, Marshall has run the table in the Mid-American Conference and has a stellar 9-1 overall record, 8-0 in the MAC, and looks to improve on their #24 ranking in both the AP and ESPN/Coaches polls. Ohio drops to 1-9 overall.
Marshall next faces former 1-AA opponent Youngstown State next Saturday in a 7pm contest at Marshall Stadium. The game takes the place of the Marshall-TCU contest originally scheduled for September 15 of this year, canceled due to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.