Thundering Herd trample Panthers on homecoming

By: Jorge Corrales/Staff Writer

The Herd ran wild on Saturday night as the Panthers dropped their homecoming game by a score of 45-13. It was the fourth straight homecoming loss for FIU.

The Panthers struck first against the Herd. After a hefty dose of running plays, freshman quarterback Alex McGough pounded it home on a QB sneak from the one yard line. The score capped a 13-play, 81-yard drive and the first time all year the the Thundering Herd trailed in a game.

The Herd wasted no time answering back. On the first play from scrimmage following the touchdown, Marshall running back Devon Johnson recorded a 72-yard rush to the FIU 3-yard line. Quarterback Rakeem Cato finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Yurachek; It marked the 39th consecutive game in which Cato threw a touchdown pass; a new FBS record. Cato finished 15 of 27 for 214 yards and four touchdown passes.

Following a blocked FG attempt by the Panthers, the Herd drove down the field once again. This time, Cato hit widereceiver Angelo Jean- Louis for his second touchdown of the game. The score sent the Herd into halftime with a 14-7 lead.

The Panthers opened up the second half with a three and out. Marshall answered with 10 unanswered third quarter points; a 35-yard field goal by Justin Haig and a 46-yard touchdown pass from Cato to Johnson.

The third quarter was no kinder to the Panthers. Following an interception by McGough, Cato and Johnson connected on another touchdown strike; this time for 27 yards.

On the ensuing drive to open up the fourth quarter, McGough threw his second interception of the game. This one was taken back 30 yards to the house by cornerback Corey Tindal. The score put the Herd ahead 38-7. Marshall reached 45 points on a 61-yard touchdown run by running back Steward Butler.

The Panthers added a late touchdown on a pass from E.J. Hilliard to Clinton Taylor.

Despite posting the most yards of total offense thus far in 2014, the Panthers offense never seemed to click after the first drive. McGough was 14 of 27 for 176 yards and 2 interceptions on the day. He was pulled in the fourth along with most of the starters.

Running back Alex Gardner had another solid game. He rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries. He went down hard in the third quarter with an apparent shoulder injury.

“I’m not exactly sure what it was,” said Head Coach Ron Turner. “We’ll do more tests to see what it was and hopefully we’ll know by tomorrow.”

The normally stout Panthers defense struggled on Saturday night. Marshall’s 45 points were the most scored by any FIU opponent on the season. Cornerback Richard Leonard recorded his team-high fifth interception of the year.

“I believe we lost focus in the second half,” said Leonard “They just kept putting up points. We’ve gotta fix that.”

The Panthers enter their bye week with a 3-5 overall record and a 2-2 record within Conference-USA. The road gets no easier as the Panthers welcome defending C-USA champion Rice University to The Cage on Nov. 1.


-Photo by: Jorge Corrales

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