Rakeem Cato’s 4-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Crawford put Marshall ahead with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Thundering Herd held on to beat Louisville 17-13 on Saturday.
Omar Brown helped seal the victory with an interception of Teddy Bridgewater’s pass on the second play of the ensuing drive. The ball was tipped in the air by teammate Darryl Roberts and Brown dove forward along the sideline, cradling the ball against his chest before it reached the ground.
The game-winning touchdown drive was set up by another fourth quarter interception of Bridgewater, making his first collegiate start for Louisville. Bridgewater scrambled on a third-and-9 from his own 20 and fired to Josh Bellamy along the Louisville sideline. Bellamy wrestled with Marshall’s Tyson Gale for the ball along the Louisville sideline with Gale emerging with it at the Louisville 30-yard line with 4:32 left to play.
Cato won the battle of freshman quarterbacks, going 18-for-30 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Bridgewater finished 20-for-29 with a touchdown through the air and another on the ground but also threw the two fourth quarter interceptions. The two quarterbacks were high school rivals in Miami with Cato’s Miami Central besting Bridgewater’s Miami Northwestern en route to a Florida state high school crown last year.
Marshall, who came into the game ranked 112th of 120 in total offense, looked sharp early as Cato capped a 12-play, 79-yard drive with a 2-yard fade pass to receiver Isaiah King. Louisville started cold, with minus-9 yards offense in the first quarter on two three-and-out possessions. The Cardinals again couldn’t muster a first down on their third drive and didn’t manage a first down until Victor Anderson’s 17-yard rush from the Louisville 5-yard line with just more than nine minutes left in the second quarter. That run sparked a 15 play, 93-yard drive that ended with Bridgewater vaulting into the end zone after scrambling on third-and-goal from the 9 to tie it at 7-7.
Marshall got the ball at the Louisville 45 following a 32-yard return from Andre Booker that was advanced 15 yards thanks to a Louisville personal foul. After picking up just 14 yards on seven plays, Tyler Warner’s 48-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright, giving Louisville the ball back with 1:27 left before halftime.
Louisville needed just three plays to score before halftime when Bridgewater threw over the middle to his release outlet, Anderson, who broke a tackle in midfield and scampered up the Marshall sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. Chris Philpott’s extra point attempt was blocked, giving Louisville a 13-7 lead going into the half.