But Rice advanced the ball to midfield in just four plays, and then McHargue got loose on his final long run. He exited with 1:20 left, leaving Rice on the Marshall 2 and presenting a major time dilemma for coach Doc Holliday and staff.
If Rice scored a touchdown, Rakeem Cato would need as much time as possible to rally for a touchdown. But conservation of time could play in Rice's favor.
Tailback Turner Petersen ran for a yard to the 1, and Marshall called a timeout with 45 seconds left. Then came the penalty that may have saved the Herd's skin - as the Owls were ready to snap, Petersen flinched, barely but enough to draw a flag.
As the ball backed up to the 6, Marshall reversed its time strategy and accepted a 10-second runoff that came with the penalty. After Marques Aiken stuffed quarterback Driphus Jackson for a yard gain, Rice called timeout with five seconds left and sent Boswell out to tie the game.
Rice won the toss for overtime and went on defense, but couldn't slow down four Herd rushes. One was a second-and-4 pass call, but Cato pulled the ball down and gained 6. Watson scored from four yards out to give MU a 48-41 lead.
Rice scored even more easily on its possession, with Jackson hitting Jordan Taylor for 22 yards and running the final three. Then the Owls got the ball to start the second overtime.
Jackson hit Taylor for 10 yards to the MU 15 and had 6-foot-5, 265-pound McDonald open for a touchdown. But as the ball reached McDonald, Okechukwu Okoroha laid a major hit on him, knocking the ball free.
Jackson rushed for four yards on second down, then overthrew McDonald in the end zone on third down. That resulted in Boswell's third field goal for Rice's first lead at 51-48 - but that gave Marshall the opening to run out of Houston with a win.
And run the Herd did, needing just two plays - Watson for 20 and Grooms the remaining five.
It took 3 hours, 50 minutes, 1,240 combined total yards and 63 first downs, but the Herd slayed the "Texas Hex" once and for all.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.