Tulsa's three-headed rushing attack showed Marshall what a real Thundering Herd looks like, racking up 250 rushing yards en route to a 45-38 road win.
Alex Singleton found his way to the end zone three more times and now has 30 rushing scores in his career. Singleton is one touchdown away from placing his name on Conference USA's all-time top-10 list.
In what was widely expected to be a shootout, Saturday's game lived up to the hype. The two offenses combined for over 900 yards, 83 points, and immeasurable drama.
Things got started on the second play of the game, when TU star safety Dexter McCoil forced and recovered a fumble from Marshall wideout Gator Hoskins, leading to a Daniel Shwarz field goal to put Tulsa on top 3-0.
With the game tied at 3-3, TU rolled the dice on 4th and one at the Marshall 48. Singleton got the call despite a stacked defensive box, and blew through everyone for a 48-yard score to lift Tulsa to a 10-3 lead.
After forcing a Marshall three-and-out, TU put together perhaps its most impressive drive of the season. The Golden Hurricane marched for a 16-play, (15 runs) 63-yard drive that ate up nearly eight minutes off the clock. Singleton finished off a worn-out Thundering Herd defense with a four-yard touchdown run, increasing the Hurricane lead to 17-3.
All was going well, but as the Golden Hurricane have shown all year, they enjoy making things difficult on themselves.
After a Kevin Grooms six-yard touchdown run that cut the TU lead to 17-10, Marco Nelson coughed up the ensuing kickoff return and Marshall recovered. The Herd quickly cashed in when Rakeem Cato found Antavious Wilson for an 11-yard score, tying the game at 17-17 just before the half.
Tulsa stormed out of the gate in the second half, pounding out a 13-play, 69-yard drive that was capped off from two yards out by Singleton's third touchdown of the game.
On the second play of Marshall's ensuing drive, Cato dumped a pass to Aaron Dobson, who lost control of the ball right into the arms of TU's Dwight Dobbins who took it back for a Tulsa touchdown. It was a chaotic play, and while the officials ruled a Dobson fumble, it could have just as easily been an interception. Either way, Tulsa was an extra point away from taking a two-touchdown lead on the road, but a mistimed snap became a loose ball that Marshall ran all the way back for two points. Instead of a 14-point lead, it was 11.
Marshall seized the shift in momentum on its next drive when Remi Martin punched in a one-yard touchdown. The Herd elected to try for two and failed, leaving the score at 30-25.
Believe it or not, this game would get even crazier.
On the ensuing kickoff, TU running back Trey Watts made one spectacular move after another, eventually breaking free for a 95-yard return to the house, extending Tulsa's lead to 37-25. Playing in front of his father J.C. (a former OU quarterback and Oklahoma State Representative) Watts also ran for 111 yards on the day.
Just three plays later, Marshall was back at it. The Herd's third-ranked FBS passing attack was looking the part when Cato found Hoskins for a 72-yard strike, cutting the Hurricane lead to 37-32.
Tulsa's offense couldn't answer, and Marshall was ready to take control. The Herd's offense opened the fourth quarter with a 99-yard touchdown drive and took a 38-37 lead when Cato found Wilson for a 32-yard touchdown. Marshall once again elected to go for two, and once again failed.
Tulsa's back was against the wall, so the Hurricane did what it normally does and responded.
Cody Green found a streaking Keyarris Garrett for a 47-yard big-gainer, and after a horse collar penalty, the Hurricane were right back inside the ten yard line. Three plays later, Green found Jordan James in the end zone to put Tulsa back on top. TU's two-point conversion was successful, and the Hurricane took the 45-38 lead.
With just over one minute left, Marshall put together one final drive to try and tie the game. But on fourth down at the Tulsa 17, Cato's pass was knocked away by Marco Nelson, the same man who fumbled the kick return earlier in the game.
It was sweet redemption for Nelson, and an even sweeter road win for the Golden Hurricane.
Marshall presented one of the most dangerous roadblocks on the 2012 schedule for TU, and now the Hurricane gets to return home for its next two games.
TU improves to 5-1 (3-0) with the win, while Marshall falls to 2-4 (1-1).
The UTEP Miners will make the trip to Tulsa for a primetime matchup this Thursday night at 7 p.m.