BOCA RATON, Fla. — Marshall entered its game Friday night against Florida Atlantic without giving up 100 or more yards to an individual rusher this season.
Devin Singletary put an emphatic stop to that.
The 5-foot-9, 200-pound sophomore rushed 28 times for 203 yards in the Owls’ 30-25 victory, becoming the first player in almost exactly a year to run that wild over the Thundering Herd. Old Dominion’s Ray Lawry riddled the Herd on Nov. 5, 2016, gaining 209 yards on 27 attempts.
Singletary scored on rushing touchdown, a 13-yarder. He had a long run of 66 yards, the longest play against the Herd this year. He also burned Marshall through the air, catching a 60-yard lob from Kamrin Solomon on a double pass play that broke a 16-all tie.
Marshall players tipped their figurative hats Singletary’s way.
“He’s a tremendous back and probably one of the best we’ve seen all year,” said defensive tackle Ryan Bee. “We had to gang-tackle him, and for the most part we did. He’s a great back.”
ingletary now has 1,256 rushing yards in nine games with 19 touchdowns, both leading Conference USA by a large margin.
Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles reached deep into the trick bags several times. The double pass was the most notable example.
“That was a well-drawn-up play,” Bee said. “We had never seen that before. Just kind of caught us off guard.”
But Kiffin took the intentional safety to a new level late in the game. He wanted to make certain Marshall wasn’t going to get the ball back with any time to mount a rally.
The Owls took over at their 43-yard line with 2:30 left after intercepting Chase Litton for the fourth time. The Herd had used its timeouts, but FAU needed to creatively stretch the clock.
On first down, Jason Driskel backed up 5 yards before taking a knee. On the next play, Driskel backed up 9, and then he lost 5 on third down. With fourth-and-29 on their 24, the Owls called timeout before lining up in punt formation.
They surely did not punt. Instead, they ran the ball backwards and out of the end zone, giving Marshall two inconsequential points with only 8 seconds left.
FAU then squibbed the free kick, with Eric Gates picking the ball up for the Herd at the Owls’ 48. He might have wanted to hit the deck to stop the clock, but decided to start the lateral brigade. The game of hot-potato ended when Marcel Williams inadvertently threw the ball forward, prompting a penalty at that spot.
The 43-yard “undrive” gave Marshall the consolation prize of a 381-353 advantage in total yardage.
* Marshall did not score in the first quarter for the first time on the road.
* Hyleck Foster lost 5 yards on a punt return in a series of bad decisions — he caught the ball on the MU 9, was tackled at the 4 and the Herd committed an illegal block in the back along the way.
The Herd was 127th in the FBS on punt returns entering the game, gaining just 26 yards on 16 attempts. With that 5-yard loss, the average fell from 1.63 to 1.24.
* Brandon Drayton started for the first time in four games, playing the nickel back on the opening snap. As expected, Alex Mollette started at right guard, where he is replacing the indefinitely suspended Nate Devers.
Left tackle Sandley Jean-Felix missed his fourth straight game.