It may have left a chance to advance to the C-USA East Division title on the grass of Legion Field with a loss to the now 2-7 Blazers, who won its first conference game of the year. The Herd falls to 2-1 in Conference USA, and 3-4 overall with its third-consecutive loss, and first in league play.
Marshall's offense was shut out for the final 42 minutes of the contest after taking a 14-2 lead early in the second quarter. The Herd missed two field goals, including a 37-yard attempt with 2:50 to play that might have given Marshall a lead. The offense wasted a two interceptions by the defense, a fumble recovery that Mario Harvey turned into the Herd's only second half points with a 62-yard return and two sacks of the elusive UAB quarterback, Joe Webb.
Webb finished with 135 yards rushing, with one touchdown, and passed for 217 yards in the game. His lone score was a 28-yard run to start the fourth quarter and gave the Blazers a 23-14 edge. Just three minutes later, Harvey's long return of a fumble he stole from Aaron Johns, ala Jonathan Goddard at Ohio State in 2003, cut the lead to just two points. But that two points was an opening play safety by the Blazers, just the first of many mistakes.
"We wanted to start out fast, but we let them start fast," said head coach Mark Snyder. "The safety was the difference in the game." But there were many other gaffs. Marshall let a first-and-goal at the one midway through the third quarter turn into a turnover and more momentum for UAB.
"We get the ball at the one and don't get any points? That can't happen," said Snyder. We've got to get back to winning, these kids are hurting right now. We had a bunch of silly little mistakes. We can't burn a timeout for an injury, there is such a thing as an injury timeout." Mark Cann had his nose bloodied, but the Herd offensive staff took a timeout to get some snaps for back-up Brian Anderson. Anderson looked great on a 48-yard completion to Darius Passmore that moved the Herd to the one-yard line of UAB. But an illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the six, then Anderson fumbled the ball and the Blazers Richard Carter recovered for the home team, which improved to 12-3 all-time in homecoming games.
UAB took over with 11:36 to play in the game, but a sack by Albert McClellan on Webb moved the Blazers back to their own 40-yard line. A punt by Swayze Waters went out at the Herd's 30-yard line. A running into the kicker was declined, as the Herd nearly blocked the effort.
Marshall was able to put together its best drive of the second half with Cann (16-of-26 for 237 yards, two touchdowns and one interceptions) leading the Herd down the field with the suddenly active running game. MU finished with just 82 yards on 30 carries, but 47 of those yards came in the final drive on offense. MU moved from its own 30 to the UAB 19.
With the game on the line, Craig Rantanamorn pulled his second field goal attempt of the day to the right again, missing from 37-yards away. UAB ran the clock down to three seconds and Cann found Passmore for a meaningless pass that summed up the effort that wasn't there all day for the Herd on the road, looking nothing like the team that went to Southern Miss and beat the Golden Eagles last month.
"We wanted to establish the running game, but it came too late in the fourth quarter," said Snyder. "Our goal was to run the ball." Snyder also noted the Herd had only 58 offensive plays, compared to 75 for UAB, and the Blazers had nearly ten minutes more of possession in the game. Marshall trailed at halftime by 17-14, starting out with mistakes that led to early UAB points. Small mishandled the opening kickoff, then instead of downing the ball tried to bring the kick out from deep in the MU end zone. He was stopped at the six, and on the very first play from scrimmage, Darius Passmore slipped on an end around and was tackled for a safety by UAB defensive end Anthony Barnes and the Blazers led 2-0 with 14 seconds off the clock.
Marshall was unable to run the ball throughout the first half, ending the first two quarters with only six yards on ten carries. Cann was very effective through the air, hitting 12-of-13 for 174 yards, and the only miss was a drop, including a 20-yard touchdown to Cody Slate near the end of the first quarter that gave the Herd a 7-2 lead.Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Cann found Darius Passmore for a short pass that the senior turned into a 71-yard touchdown and a 14-2 Herd lead. After missing a field goal in the first, UAB found itself down by 12 points. Back came the Blazers behind Webb, who led UAB in rushing with 10 for 51 yards and passed well, hitting 9-of-14 for 124 yards. Following Passmore's long touchdown run, the Blazers had its own long play. Make that plays, as from its own seven-yard line, UAB drove 93 yards on 19 plays to within five points on a Justin Brook's three-yard touchdown with 3:08 to play. Marshall went three and out, and Whitehead's punt of 40 yards was returned 17 yards by Kevin Sanders and UAB had a first and ten at the MU 46-yard line and 1:34 to play. Webb drove the Blazers down to the Herd one-yard line, the big play being a 31 yard reception from tight end Jeffe Anderson. Rashaud Slaughter, who rushed for 39 yards on seven carries, carried in from one yard, then caught a two-point conversion from Webb to give UAB a 17-14 lead. Marshall took one more shot, as Cann moved the Herd from its own 33-yard line to the UAB 38, but Craig Rantanamorn was long enough, but wide right, on a 55-yard field goal attempt to end the half. Marshall may have cost a shorter try when it spiked the ball instead of using one of two timeouts left when Slate caught an eight yard pass over the middle and the clock wound down to 11 seconds from about 24 seconds before the spike. MU took a timeout to the locker room and found itself down three at half.