No. 21 Marshall throttles Rice 41-14
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Rakeem Cato threw four touchdown passes, Devon Johnson rushed for 199 yards and a score and No. 21 Marshall beat Rice 41-14 on Saturday.
Marshall improved to 10-0 for the first time since it went 13-0 in 1999.
The Thundering Herd (6-0 Conference USA) limited Rice to 180 total yards and ended the Owls' six-game winning streak.
In a rematch of last year's conference championship game, Cato had scoring tosses of 2, 25, 30 and 7 yards to give him 117 for his career, surpassing Chad Pennington's school record of 115 set from 1995-1999. Cato went 23 of 37 for 297 yards.
Rice (6-4, 4-2) entered the game allowing an average of only 135 yards on the ground, but Marshall had that matched by halftime. Johnson went over 100 yards for the eighth time this season since converting from tight end in preseason camp.
Johnson entered the game ninth in the Bowl Subdivision with 1,202 yards rushing. He sat out last week's win at Southern Miss with a sore left knee and was coming off a school-record 272 yards against Florida Atlantic.
The Thundering Herd got a convincing victory against one of only two teams on their schedule with winning records entering Saturday's play.
Marshall isn't in the College Football Playoff rankings, but is trying to show the CFP committee that it's worthy of one of the guaranteed prominent bowl berths given to the Group of Five conferences.
Marshall finished with 581 yards of offense and is the only FBS team to score at least 35 points in every game.
Marshall jumped ahead 20-7 at halftime and scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half. Rice had allowed only three second-half TDs in its previous five games.
After halftime, Cato had a 30-yard scoring pass to Eric Frohnapfel and a 7-yarder to Deon-Tay McManus, sandwiched around Johnson's 2-yard TD run that put Marshall ahead 41-7.
Marshall had fallen behind early in its previous three games, but got a determined effort from its defense, which forced Rice to punt on its first five drives.
Driphus Jackson had thrown 11 of his 15 touchdown passes during Rice's winning streak, but Marshall gave him little room to operate. Jackson went 11 of 23 for 99 yards.
Cato extended his FBS-record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 42 with a short pass to tight end Ryan Yurachek in the second quarter. Freshman Hyleck Foster's first career TD grab, a 25-yarder, made it 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
Rice's Bryce Callahan intercepted an underthrown ball and returned it 28 yards to set up a short scoring run by Jowan Davis shortly before halftime. Rice's other TD, a 10-yard run by Darik Dillard, came midway through the fourth quarter.