Owls beaten in closing minutes, 14-7
MEXICO -- While it was Friday the 13th for both football teams, bad luck plagued Marshall more than Mexico during a 14-7 NCMC road loss.
Two key turnovers late in the game both cost the Owls a touchdown and gave one to their opponent. Those meant that senior Jamel Taylor's 47-yard TD run with under five minutes remaining tilted the outcome for the Bulldogs.
"We didn't do enough offensively to win the game," admitted Marshall head coach Jon Stockman, whose team managed only seven first downs and 152 total yards. "We had way too many three-and-outs."
Mexico began both halves with long drives which failed to produce points, including a 13-play series to open the game. Junior quarterback Tyler Bracht's 13-yard keeper overcame a long third down, but senior Tyler Cott tackled Taylor for a 3-yard loss and the Bulldogs were stopped at the Marshall 8-yard line.
The Owls were called for holding on a punt, setting Mexico up 41 yards away from the goal line, but nothing developed from that possession.
Cott broke off a 48-yard dash on a counter sweep to start Marshall's drive, which reached the 'Dogs' 17 before stalling.
Bracht ran for 15 yards and Taylor for 11 during the final series of the half to reach the Marshall 37. Mexico spiked the ball with 18 seconds left while the Owls were attempting to get players on and off the field, but the penalty was a 15-yarder for illegal participation instead of a 5-yard illegal substitution.
Fortunately for Marshall, it didn't matter because senior Caleb Willis knocked down a pass in the end zone as time expired.
"I thought our defense played well," Stockman asserted. "They flew around and tackled well at times."
The 'Dogs went 63 yards on 16 plays during their first drive of the second half. Taylor putting them in position to score with a 19-yard run to the Owls' 7-yard line, but junior Devin Cott tackled Bracht for a 4-yard loss and Marshall held.
However, two snaps later, Mexico got its biggest break of the game. Senior Chris Stephenson was tackled after a 1-yard gain, then he released the ball. The whistle hadn't blown, though, and sophomore Karsten Ekern picked up the ball and ran 8 yards into the end zone while both teams watched for what was ruled a touchdown.
"Chris said he was down, officials said they saw [a fumble]," Stockman said. "What do you do?"
The Owls answered with a 14-play, 61-yard drive, Tyler Cott gaining 30 yards on a pass from senior Zach Glassmaker -- who found junior Logan Harris and Cott for a combined 9 yards on third- and fourth-down tosses. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the 'Dogs put Marshall inside the 10-yard line and Cott ran it in from three yards out two plays later to tie the score.
The Owls had a chance to take lead when Willis returned a punt 61 yards to the Mexico 22, aided by a nice block by senior Brett Maupin. After pass interference placed the ball at the 11, Glassmaker looked for Harris in the back of the end zone, but Taylor deflected the pass in mid-flight near the goal line and junior Cole Jaramillo came up with the interception.
"Those things happen," Stockman said. "Again, we need to execute better and those things will be diminished."
With the help of a personal foul call, among 11 penalties against Marshall for 102 yards, the Bulldogs moved past midfield. Taylor took the ball off-tackle, wiggled by a lunching tackle attempt, and sprinted the distance untouched with 4:59 left in the game. The Owls were quickly stopped on downs at their own 28 and Mexico was able to control the ball over the final 2:38 to seal the win.
Taylor finished with 179 yards on 29 carries for the Bulldogs (1-2, 1-0 NCMC).
Tyler Cott led Marshall (0-3, 0-1) with 103 yards rushing and receiving while also getting in on nine tackles, including the team's first sack of the season.
Kirksville will be the Owls' Homecoming guest Friday.