Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Kevin Grooms' five-yard touchdown run in double overtime gave the Marshall Thundering Herd a 54-51 win over the Rice Owls in a Conference USA battle at Rice Stadium.
Grooms finished with 103 yards rushing and three touchdowns for Marshall (2-2, 1-0, C-USA) while Steward Butler picked up a game-high 166 yards and a touchdown himself. Remi Watson also ran the ball effectively with 84 yards and two touchdowns. Rakeem Cato completed 28-of-39 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. The win was the first ever by the Thundering Herd in the state of Texas.
Taylor McHargue powered the Rice (1-3, 0-1) offense with 314 yards and three touchdowns on 21-for-36 passing, while also rushing for a team-high 153 yards and a score. Turner Petersen rushed for 76 yards and a score of his own, while Sam McGuffie caught four passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Rice has now lost back-to-back games.
The two squads traded touchdowns early in the game with Marshall scoring on a 17-yard run by Grooms and Rice evening the score on a 30-yard run by Petersen.
A 57-yard rushing touchdown from Butler late in the quarter gave Marshall the lead back. Cato then threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Grooms midway through the second frame to extend the Thundering Herd lead to 21-7.
Rice responded with a 43-yard touchdown pass from McHargue to Donte Moore to cut its deficit to 21-14 which is where the score stood at the break.
Another McHargue touchdown pass, this time a 31-yard strike to McGuffie, evened the score at 21-21 early in the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Herd drove 91 yards in just under two minutes, highlighted by a 45-yard touchdown run by Grooms.
Rice struck right back with a 50-yard touchdown pass from McHargue to McGuffie on its next possession.
The back-and-forth scoring in the third quarter continued as Cato tossed a one-yard touchdown to Gator Hoskins to cap off a nine-play, 75-yard drive for Marshall.
A 39-yard field goal from Chris Boswell early in the fourth quarter cut Rice's deficit to four, 35-31.
Marshall gave itself some breathing room by capping off a 15-play, 73-yard drive that lasted more than five minutes with a two-yard rushing touchdown from Watson.
A 43-yard touchdown run by McHargue on Rice's next possession brought the Owls back to within three. McHargue then ripped off a 47-yard run to set up Rice at the one-yard line in the final moments, but the Owls had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Boswell to send the game to overtime knotted at 41-41.
Marshall got the ball first in the extra period and scored on a four-yard touchdown run by Watson. Rice responded with a three-yard touchdown run by Driphus Jackson.
In the second overtime, Rice had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Boswell, which allowed the Thundering Herd to win on Grooms' final touchdown run.
Both teams were effective on third down with Marshall converting 10-of-16 chances and Rice going 9-of-17. There were no turnovers in the game.
The Owls entered the week ranked 118th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 43.0 ppg.