HUNTINGTON - Sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato completed 32-of-42 attempts for 377 yards and three touchdowns, Devin Arrington returned an interception 17 yards for another score and Marshall University overcame a sluggish first quarter en route to a 52-24 win over Western Carolina University Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Cato, who threw for more than 400 yards in a 69-34 loss at No. 9 West Virginia last week, was nearly perfect in leading the Thundering Herd to 24 first half points.
Steward Butler, who scored on an 8-yard run, led a balanced running attack with 59 yards on seven attempts. Kevin Grooms added 42 yards on 12 carries while Travon Van chipped in with 40 yards on 10 carries.
Western Carolina, which dropped to 1-1 on the season, was led by quarterback Eddie Sullivan, who completed 19-of-40 attempts for 191 yards and one score and rushed 10 times for 50 yards and a pair of six pointers.
WCU opened the second half the way it ended the first by taking advantage of a failed fourth-and-3 attempt by the Marshall offense at the WCU 48 and driving for its first touchdown of the game - a 5-yard pass from Eddie Sullivan to Jacoby Mitchell at the 10:27 mark of the third quarter. Sigmon's PAT sliced the Herds' lead to 24-10.
Marshall, 1-1, answered that score with one of its own, putting together an 11-play drive that covered 62 yards with Steward Butler covering the final eight yards for his first touchdown of the season. Haig's PAT pushed the lead back to 21, 31-10.
Marshall took the opening kickoff and marched 75 plays in nine plays with Justin Haig putting the hosts on the scoreboard first with a 24-yard field goal with less than four minutes off of the game clock.
Those, however, would be the only points of the first 15 minutes as the Herd's second possession ended with a missed field goal opportunity by Haig.
The hosts would get their offense rolling in the second quarter as Cato completed 22-of-29 attempts for 280 yards and a trio of touchdowns. The first going for one yard to Gator Hoskins to culminate an 11-play, 82-yard drive. Haig's PAT pushed the score to 10-0 and the Herd never looked back.
Two more touchdown passes - 2-yards to Aaron Dobson and 12-yards to Demetrius Evans - handed the hosts a 24-0 lead before a last-second, 40-yard field goal by Richard Sigmon put the visitors on the board before the intermission.