But while Paul Smith was putting up big numbers, so was the Marshall offense once it got the first quarter out of the way. Marshall has been out-scored 55-to-8 in the first quarter and found itself down 7-3 at the end of this starting quarter as well. The Herd does not have a touchdown in the first quarter. "The offense has got to start faster," said senior center Doug Legursky. "We can't wait until the second, or even the third and the fourth. We will get a 'W' before the season is over."
In the second quarter, Tulsa continued to pour it on the Herd, out-scoring MU 24-14 in the second quarter to take a 31-17 lead into the halftime. "The key in the first half was their receivers made plays, and our defensive backs didn't," said Marshall head coach Mark Snyder. "I was pleased we did finish strong today. These kids like football, they continue to practice and work hard. We'll keep moving forward and get back to work on Monday."
Marshall drops to 0-6 for the first time since 1969, and has lost seven in a row for the first time since 1981. The Herd lost its finale in 2006 at Southern Miss, 42-7, and the Golden Eagles will be the Herd's third home game in seven outings this season when USM comes in next week for the first Sunday kickoff in the modern history of varsity football at Marshall. "We are starting to come together as one," said Snyder. "We were getting some senior leadership tonight I haven't seen here in my first two years. We have got to keep working on Marshall."
The Herd offense, by and large, had a good night by posting a season-high 31 points with 444 yards of total offense. Bernard Morris continued his outstanding play at quarterback for MU, hitting for 21-of-37 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Morris had no interceptions, and ran for 33 more yards on the ground. The Herd was led in rushing by freshman Darius Marshall, with 63 yards on just 13 carries, but junior Chubb Small had his best game of the year. Small rushed for 53 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns for the Herd and both backs averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
Darius Passmore also chipped in 35 yards on five carries and caught four passes for 32 more yards. Cody Slate had the biggest day among the MU receivers as the sophomore tight end finished with six catches for 102 yards and scored the late touchdown that got the Herd within seven points with about a minute to play. Slate's best play, however, was a 47-yard catch-and-run near the end of the third quarter, where he broke five tackles before he was finally drug down at the 11-yard line. That came just two plays after junior receiver E.J. Wynn had a 25-yard run in which he broke three tackles to set up Slate's play. Wynn finished with four catches for 64 yards, one of his best night's as a member of the Herd.
But Tulsa is also a big-play offense and no play was bigger than when the Herd closed within seven points with 5:50 to go in the third quarter at 31-24 on Small's second touchdown of the evening. Just two plays later, Smith pumped and then found junior college wide out Brennan Marion for a 73-yard touchdown to boost the lead back to two touchdowns, 38-24. Marion caught two passes for 114 yards, adding to a season where he has been averaging over 40 yards per catch.
"We're getting closer each week, and now we will go back and go to work to see if we can get a 'W'," said Legursky. "When teams are having losing seasons, players can get selfish, but this team has done a good job of staying together." Marshall will finish the season with four of six games at home, including Southern Miss (3-3, 2-1) next Sunday at 8 p.m. the Golden Eagles beat SMU 28-7 in Dallas on Saturday. Rice, who dropped a shootout to cross-town rival Houston today, 56-48, will come in on October 27 for Marshall's 106th Homecoming game. The Owls are now 2-4, 1-1 in league play.
Also coming to Huntington will be the East Divisions leaders, East Carolina (4-3, 3-1) on November 10, and the Pirates pulled out an overtime win in another C-USA shootout in El Paso last night. UAB (2-4, 1-1), who beat Tulane tonight 26-21, will be in for Senior Day on November 24 on Thanksgiving weekend. The Herd will also travel to Orlando to play the Central Florida's Knights in UCF's (3-2, 1-1) new stadium on Nov. 3, and travel to Houston (3-3, 2-1) to face the Cougars on Nov. 17.