In special-teams follies, Trent Martin took two kickoffs in relief of Justin Haig. The first one went into the end zone for a touchback, though the Herd was flagged for going offsides and Houston started at the 30. The second kick was another special-teams disaster, with Martin making the tackle at the end of a 59-yard return.
That was Martin's first tackle of the year. Haig had to make his seventh tackle at the end of a 61-yard runback in the third quarter.
After a 38-yard return that gave Houston's last scoring drive a jump start, Haig was ordered to make a modified squib kick after his go-ahead field goal. That produced the best result, as the Cougars took their final play from their 19.
Some good news: Marshall has made 117 extra points in a row, dating back to a blocked PAT on Sept. 25, 2010 against Ohio. That streak has stretched across 32 games, and Haig is 52 of 52 this season.
Linebacker Jermaine Holmes led the Herd with 16 tackles, giving him 28 in two games since being reinserted into the starting lineup. Before that, he had three tackles in three games.
The Herd ran 106 plays, second on the school's all-time list. The most came in the 1987 game against Western Carolina, when current quarterback coach Tony Petersen and crew took 108 snaps. In 11 games, the Herd has run 987 plays from scrimmage.
Marshall's 665 total yards was its most since 2002, when the Herd gained 733 against Buffalo - 128 games ago. The Herd also tied its school record of 37 first downs, set in this year's Western Carolina game.
MU won the toss and took the ball, marking the 16th straight game it has received the opening kickoff. That streak is the highest in the nation.
Cato became the 18th MU player to score a touchdown this season when he ran it in from 5 yards in the third quarter. That extends a school record and ties Colorado State for the national lead.
Houston has enjoyed a run of success in the past decade, including one Conference USA title and another West Division title, but the Cougars clinched their second losing season in three years Saturday.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.