Marshall opened the scoring with Cato's 1-yard pass to Gator Hoskins and tacked on a Justin Haig 41-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Memphis back Jai Steib scored the first of his two touchdowns in the second quarter, and Remi Watson made it 17-7 at the half with a 4-yard run.
After defensive end Jeremiah Taylor blocked a 29-year-old field goal by Memphis' Paulo Henriques, Cato took the Herd 81 yards for a 24-7 lead, hitting Evans from 25 yards. Then the Herd temporarily escaped its recent special-teams curse when a squib kick ricocheted off a Memphis up-man, with Carter recovering.
The Tigers all but gave the Herd its subsequent 50-yard drive, committing a pass-interference foul, a roughing-the-passer penalty and one of the dumbest personal fouls, by Wynton McManis. The Tigers had forced Cato into a third-and-15 incomplete pass when McManis fouled MU's Jermain Kelson after the play.
On the next play, Cato found Johnson for his first collegiate touchdown, making it 31-7 with 7:39 left in the third quarter. From there, the Herd hung on, and on, and on.
After Karam passed 1 yard to Jesse Milleson for a score on fourth-and-goal, Henriques recovered his own onside kick. Early in the fourth quarter, Steib's 2-yard run cut the lead to 31-21. After a three-and-out, Memphis sprung the fake punt on fourth-and-9 at its 35.
Hornsey took a few steps and jumped to lob a short pass over Herd rushers, hitting Bobby McCain, who ran 61 yards to the Marshall 5. Officials flagged the Tigers for an ineligible man downfield, but waived the penalty off after determining the pass did not cross the line of scrimmage.
"[Marshall is] a big block team, and that's a fake we had in for a couple of different opponents," Fuente said.
The Tigers' touchdown two plays later was almost as unusual. Steib fumbled as he approached the goal line, but left tackle Jordan Devey outwrestled MU linebacker Deon Meadows for the recovery in the end zone.
That made it 31-28, but Allen's 28-yard TD catch kept Memphis at arm's length.
Marshall struggled to run the ball, gaining 92 yards on 27 carries. The Herd gained 433 yards to Memphis' 372 - the latter figure the most the Tigers have managed against a Conference USA opponent.
Here may be the most stunning statistic: Marshall ran a season-low 71 plays, to a season-high 84 for Memphis. Sandwiched around the onside kick, the Tigers ran 23 offensive plays in a row in a span of 91/2 minutes.
"They did a nice job at keeping our offense off the field," Holliday said.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.