Inside Marshall Sports

Overnight notebook, Herd-UTSA game

SAN ANTONIO — Once upon a time, Hyleck Foster was a slot receiver at Marshall, even starting.
But in 2015, his sophomore year, he was moved to running back. Than this season, he became an outside receiver, where he remained as a reserve.
Then came the fourth quarter of Marshall’s game Saturday at Texas-San Antonio, when he was a slot receiver once again.
Marcel Williams has been the Herd’s slot receiver and No. 2 pass-catcher, but he was injured early in the Herd’s win the previous game over Western Kentucky. Nick Mathews became the slot man, catching four passes for 46 yards.
Mathews started Saturday at the Alamodome, catching three passes for 31 yards. He was replaced by Gator Green, who caught a 1-yard screen pass early in MU’s TD drive. Two plays later, Foster was in the game in Green’s place. He was the target receiver on an incompletion on first-and-10 at the MU 37-yard line.
But on third-and-3, Chase Litton hit Foster for 6 yards and a first down. After Litton hit Keion Davis on a 30-yard catch-and-run to the UTSA 20, he lobbed a shot to Foster on the right edge of the end zone.
Foster caught the ball and toe-tapped inside the boundary like he has practiced all year. That was his third catch of the season, and fifth TD catch of his career.
“The play was really designed to go to [tight end Ryan] Yurachek,” Foster said. “Chase saw I was one-on-one; a safety was backed off and I was one-on-one with the safety, I beat him on the corner route with speed and Chase just put it in the corner of the end zone.”

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Losing doesn’t do much for a coach’s disposition, and the officiating Saturday did even less.
Coach Doc Holliday fumed on the sidelines at several points. There were several calls that ruffled him, but two were particularly painful.
One came early in the fourth quarter, when Dalton Sturm threw a slant pass to Josh Stewart. Stewart pulled the ball down, took a step and maybe two, then lost the handle. MU’s Davon Durant, thinking the ball was live, picked it up and ran it to the end zone.
Incomplete, the officials ruled. The game was not stopped for a video review, and Holliday would have had to risk a timeout to challenge the call. He didn’t feel he had to.
“In a situation that critical, you sure as hell would have thought they would have gone in there, taken a look at that,” he said. “I don’t know, I will have to see it on tape.”
Just as painful was the ejection of Ryan Bee. The defensive tackle was tossed for a personal foul during UTSA’s field goal with 7 seconds left in the first half.
Holliday appeared to be enraged. Defensive tackles coach J.C. Price rode the officials briefly, and Bee had to be persuaded to keep his cool on the way out.
“No clue. Call the head of officials; I don’t know,” Holliday said tersely.

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Foster’s catch preserved Marshall’s 17-year streak of not being shut out, one that dates to an infamous 42-0 loss at Toledo on Oct. 14, 2000. That is likely the latest the Herd has recorded its first score since.
UTSA was the 15th team since that 2000 game to hold the Herd to single digits, with Central Florida (2011) losing the shutout on a fumble return. Holliday’s teams avoided that fate from 2012-15, but was held to six by Western Kentucky last year.
Another painful milestone: It has been 26 years since nine points were enough to defeat the Herd. That came on Aug. 31, 1991, when Jim Donnan’s team opened the season with a 9-3 loss at Appalachian State. The previous low number in MU’s Division I-AA/FBS era was a 13-3 loss at Georgia in 2004.

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UTSA (6-4, 3-4) became the eighth Conference USA team to gain bowl eligibility, as the league stands to fill in vacancies left by other leagues.
Five of those teams have won seven or more games — Florida Atlantic, Marshall, WKU, North Texas, Alabama-Birmingham and Southern Mississippi. Seven-win teams have preference in filling C-USA’s bowl card.
The Roadrunners will try for their seventh win next week at Louisiana Tech, who need a win to become bowl eligible. Another eligible team will emerge from the Middle Tennessee-Old Dominion contest.