(St. Petersburg, FL) Using a ball control offense and several extended drives, the Marshall Thundering Herd defeated the UConn Huskies 16-10 this afternoon in the 8th St. Petersburg Bowl played at Tropicana Field. Marshall had 5 consecutive possessions at one time of more than 10 plays, keeping the ball for nearly 35 minutes en route to their 10th victory of the season.
Keion Davis was named game MVP with a 10 carry, 73-yard performance including a 41-yard scamper late in the 4th quarter setting up Nick Smith’s 3rd field goal of the contest. Smith connected on kicks from 21, 29 and 32 yards out. Marshall Quarterback Chase Litton completed 23 of 34 passes for 218 Yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
The Thundering Herd took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when Chase Litton lofted a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tight End Ryan Yurachek. It was Litton’s 23rd TD pass of the season.
UConn responded with a 13-play, 71-yard scoring drive taking 6:19 off the clock capped off by an 8-yard touchdown run by Running Back Ron Johnson tying the game at 7-7 with 1:51 remaining in the first quarter.
Nick Smith booted the first of his 3 field goals topping Marshall’s first clock burning drive of 13 plays and 65 yards in 6:02 to regain a 10-7 lead for the Herd.
Smith added a 29-yard field goal after Marshall drove the ball 85 yards in 15 plays in just under 5 minutes giving the Herd a 13-7 lead going into halftime.
Marshall opened the second half with its third straight drive of more than 10 plays but turned the ball over on downs at the UConn 17 yard line.
Kendall Gant intercepted UConn Quarterback Bryant Shirreff for the first turnover of the game. Marshall again kept the ball for 10 plays and 4 and a half minutes, but game up empty when Nick Smith missed a 42 yard field goal attempt.
The Huskies pulled to within 3 on Bobby Puyol’s St. Petersburg Bowl record long 52-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.
UConn’s Jamar Summers intercepted Chase Litton early in the 4th quarter, but UConn’s offense stalled and was forced to punt with 8:19 left in the game. Marshall executed another lengthy drive of more than 10 plays, led by Keion Davis’ 71 yards on 10 carries setting up Nick Smith’s 32 yard field goal with 1:44 remaining. The Thundering Herd’s defense squashed UConn’s last minute hopes forcing a turnover on downs to seal the win for Marshall.
Marshall finishes the 2015 season with a 10-3 record while UConn falls to 6-7.
Today is the 8th St. Petersburg Bowl held at Tropicana Field. Marshall University comes in with a 9-3 overall record and 6-2 Conference USA record. UConn finished the regular season at 6-6, 4-4 in the American Athletic Conference.
Marshall averaged just under 33 points per game on offense in 2015. UConn averaged just under 18 points per game on offense.
Today’s officials were from the Mountain West Conference.
ESPN telecast the St. Petersburg Bowl and streamed the game on ESPN3. Tom Hart called the play-by-play with Anthony Becht doing the color and Tiffany Greene on the sidelines. ESPN radio also carried the game with Drew Goodman handling the play-by-play, Rene Ingoglia doing the color and Brett McMurphy on the sidelines.
Events this week in St. Petersburg leading up to the game included a “fill the bowl” contest at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort Grand Ballroom, “Beach Bash” on Madeira Beach, dance and belly flop contests and battle of the bands at Sirata Beach Resort.
Both schools marching bands performed at halftime.
125 players who have played in previous St. Petersburg Bowls have gone on to sign NFL contracts including Blake Bortles (UCF/Jacksonville Jaguars), T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Indianapolis Colts) and George Selvie (USF, NY Giants).
This was the UConn Huskies first bowl game in Florida.
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