Huntington, WV (Sports Network) - Justin Haig kicked a 45-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining, as the Marshall Thundering Herd rallied for a 44-41 win over the Houston Cougars in Conference USA play from Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The Thundering Herd (5-6, 4-3 C-USA) kept their postseason hopes alive and can become bowl eligible with a win at East Carolina on Friday. Rakeem Cato threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, and he also added a rushing touchdown in the victory. Tommy Shuler caught nine passes for 105 yards and a score, while Kevin Grooms added 155 yards and a TD on the ground.
The Cougars (4-7, 3-4) erased a 31-10 halftime deficit but could not finish the job and are now eliminated from bowl contention. The loss spoiled a terrific day from quarterback Crawford Jones, who completed 31-of-44 passes for 316 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Shane Ros and Xavier Maxwell each hauled in a pair of touchdown catches in defeat.
Marshall controlled the action right from the start, opening the game with a 16-play, 81-yard drive that lasted more than five minutes. Cato capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Antavious Wilson.
After Haig tacked on three more points with a 23-yard field goal midway through the opening frame, Marshall made it a 17-0 game on Cato's five-yard TD pass to Shuler at the 9:11 mark of the second quarter.
UH got on the board three minutes later on Jones' three-yard touchdown pass to Ros, capping an 11-play, 70-yard drive.
But Marshall answered right back as Cato found Davonte Allen for a 46-yard scoring strike to push the Herd's lead to 24-7 with 4:49 to play in the second quarter.
Following a 32-yard field goal by UH kicker Matt Hogan, Marshall made it a 31-10 game on Grooms' 69-yard touchdown burst with just over a minute to play until halftime.
The Cougars cut the deficit to 31-17 midway through the third quarter, as Jones hooked up with Maxwell for a four-yard touchdown pass and catch.
A five-yard touchdown run by Cato capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Herd a 38-17 cushion with 2:29 to play in the third quarter.
However, UH began to close the gap in a hurry. On the ensuing kickoff, Jarrett Irving lateraled to Kenneth Farrow, who returned it 61 yards to the Marshall 19, setting up a touchdown pass from Jones to Ros on the next play from scrimmage.
Jones hooked up with Maxwell for a 58-yard scoring strike to make it a 38-31 game with 14:38 to play in regulation. The Cougars defense forced a three-and- out to hand the ball back to the offense, and Jones struck again with a seven- yard TD pass to Deontay Greenberry to tie the score at 38 apiece.
Marshall answered with a 14-play, 73-yard drive but had to settle for a 26- yard field goal from Haig when the drive stalled at the Houston 9.
UH would tie it back up four minutes later, as Hogan kicked a 28-yard field goal with 1:18 remaining in regulation.
But the Cougars left just enough time on the clock for the Herd, who got the ball back and moved quickly down to the UH 28, setting up Haig's 45-yarder with seven seconds on the clock.
The teams combined for a staggering 60 first downs and 1,095 yards from scrimmage. Marshall converted 13-of-22 third downs, compared to a 5-of-17 success rate for the Cougars.
11/17 17:38:19 ET
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