Cato threw touchdown passes to Essray Taliaferro and Devon Smith in the fourth quarter, but the Herd needed to score more than 10 points in the first 45 minutes.
Marshall's offense, averaging 44.6 points and 513.2 total yards beforehand, was held to 241 total yards in those three quarters, 371 for the contest.
The Herd was held to 106 yards rushing, which forced Cato to throw 41 times. He completed 24 for 265 yards, but had a hard time finding open receivers, particularly his outside targets. That factored into his three sacks, as he often held the ball longer than he wanted.
"All throughout practice, we knew they had two great cornerbacks," Cato said, referring to Phillip Gaines and Bryce Callahan. "The routes we ran weren't open toward the coverage they were running."
"They were giving us a lot of time to get after the quarterback," said Rice defensive end Cody Bauer. "That helped us out a lot. I wish we could have gotten a little more pressure than we did. [Cato] was really good on his feet, he was squirting out there."
Cato's finest moment came in the second quarter, after Rice took that 21-3 lead. From the Rice 28-yard line, he somehow ducked out of a collapsing pocket, ran to the right, stopped to avoid a thunderous hit from a linebacker and ran to the sideline. Knowing exactly how much time he gave himself, he finally found Gator Hoskins coming back out of the end zone.
After that 27-yard completion, Devon Johnson scored from the 1 in the "Cheese" formation.
But that play was overshadowed by everything else, including Turner's two gadget-play touchdown throws that helped earn him the MVP award.
"[Offensive coordinator John] Reagan put together a great game plan," Turner said. "He mixes up the pass and run really well, and throwing in a couple of trick plays really put them on their heels a bit.
"They didn't understand what we were doing."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.