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Gaines' 4th-quarter touchdown gives Marshall 33-31 win over Ohio

Herd take back bell in first meeting between rivals since 2015

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Shut out in the second half to that point, Marshall got a 43-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Green to Xavier Gaines with 7:45 remaining, and the Thundering Herd took back the bell by edging Ohio 33-31 on Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Gaines was wide open on the third-down play after Green rolled to his left and caught the ball with plenty of room to avoid one defender between him and the end zone. The extra point was missed off the left upright, but it did not matter. Ohio punted on the ensuing possession and never got the ball back.

It was Gaines' second score of the game, and it answered a 72-yard touchdown run by Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke on an option keeper down the left sideline that gave the Bobcats (1-2) their first lead of the game at 31-27 with 11:14 remaining.

Following Marshall's touchdown to regain the lead, Ohio picked up one first down on a 10-yard screen pass to De'Montre Tuggle on a third-and-8 play. But Rourke was off the mark on the next third-down pass, and the Bobcats punted from their own 35-yard line.

Starting at their own 28, the Thundering Herd (2-1) did not face a single third down on their way to gaining four first downs to run out the final 5:42 of the game.

"Marshall is a good offensive football team, big upfront," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "They've got good backs. They've got a downhill type of running attack. The second half I thought we played much better, but there were crucial times in the second half too that they were able to gash us."

Despite the loss, Rourke was his usual dynamic self after struggling with strep throat in a 20-10 loss last Saturday at Pittsburgh. Against Marshall, Rourke was 15 of 25 passing for 215 yards and three touchdowns and also ran nine times for 118 yards and a score. He passed Tyler Tettleton for first place in Ohio history for career combined touchdowns with 84.

Marshall, though, had its own playmaker in Gaines, who caught three passes for 53 yards and the game-winning touchdown and also ran the ball three times for 52 yards and a score.

Gaines put the Thundering Herd ahead on the game's opening possession with a 26-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation. Ohio used good field position from a 19-yard punt return by Jerome Buckner, with a 15-yard late hit penalty tacked on to get on the board with a Louis Zervos 44-yard field goal at the 7:51 mark.

Justin Rohrwasser hit a field goal of his own, a 38-yarder, to make it a one-touchdown game again. Ohio tied the score with a Rourke 20-yard touchdown pass to Shane Hooks on the second play of the second quarter.

Brenden Knox scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to move Marshall back on top 17-10, and Ohio answered on a Rourke 18-yard touchdown pass to Tuggle with 6:09 left in the first half.

Green connected with Devin Miller for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 3:12 to go, and after a quick punt, Knox's 27-yard run led to a Rohrwasser 37-yard field goal with just under a minute to play to make it 27-17. Rourke got Ohio in position to answer but Zervos missed wide left from 43 yards away at the end of the half.

On Ohio's second possession of the second half, Rourke converted a third down with a 22-yard run, and after a 22-yard strike to Isiah Cox, Roruke hit Ryan Luerhman for a 7-yard touchdown that made it 27-24 at the 8:03 mark in the third quarter.

The Bobcats missed out on a chance at good field position after forcing a Marshall three-and-out. Jerome Buckner returned a punt to the Ohio 40-yard line but had the ball knocked out and recovered by Armani Levias.

Marshall punted twice more before Rourke's long touchdown run gave Ohio its only lead.

O'Shaan Allison ran 12 times for 60 yards, while Tuggle had 10 carries for 45 yards and caught two passes for 28 yards in a timeshare at running back for Ohio. Cox (61 yards) and Luehrman (60 yards) each had four receptions.

Ohio had a bounce-back performance on offense despite missing starting running back Julian Ross, starting receivers Cam Odom and Tyler Tupa and center Steven Hayes.

"I think there is some good to take out of this, but I think we have to get started quicker," Rourke said. "Our special teams put us in some really good situations early, and we didn't take advantage of them. That's something that we still have to work on. It seemed like we were taking a long time to get going on offense, and that puts our defense in a tough spot when they're playing from behind. We have to be better at that. It was good to get a rhythm going, but we need to win games."

Knox ran the ball 16 times for 133 yards in the first half for Marshall but did not return to the game after an injury in the final minutes of the second quarter. Sheldon Evans ran 17 times for 77 yards.

Green was effective for the Herd, going 17 of 28 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He added six carries for 50 yards.

Javon Hagan led Ohio's defense with 12 tackles, and fellow safety Jarren Hampton had 11 tackles. Linebackers Dylan Conner and Jared Dorsa had 11 tackles each. With no sacks in the game, Ohio has just three on the season, and with no turnovers forced, it has just one this year.

It was the first Battle for the Bell meeting since a 21-10 Ohio victory in 2015. The teams will meet again next year in Athens and last week announced future games in Huntington in 2025 and in Athens in 2027.

After two straight road losses, Ohio returns home to face Louisiana at 2 p.m. Saturday at Peden Stadium.

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