Marshall, Ohio battle for the bell

HUNTINGTON – Corralling Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton is not an easy task.

In fact, in the past two meetings with the Bobcats, Marshall University has failed to record a sack.

In order to snap a two-game losing streak in the Battle for the Bell tonight in Athens, Ohio, Marshall must find a way to make life difficult for the senior from Norman, Okla. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Peden Stadium.

“It’s important to get pressure on him and that needs to happen because if he can sit back there and break containment, then he will create problems for you,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “That’s something we have to make sure does not happen.”

The Thundering Herd are unbeaten at 2-0 for the first time since 1999. They are coming off a 55-0 victory over Gardner-Webb, which marked the first Marshall shutout since 2003, a span of 111 games.

That same day, Ohio evened its record at 1-1 with a 27-21 win at home against North Texas. The Bobcats pulled out to a 21-7 lead, thanks to a 75-yard touchdown pass from Tettleton to Chase Cochran, which was the 10th-longest pass play in school history.

“We have great respect for Ohio and its head coach Frank Solich,” Holliday said. “They’re always well-coached. They’re extremely-tough and it’ll be a great challenge for us to walk into their stadium and go play.

“When you think about Ohio, you think about their toughness and their quarterback Tyler Tettleton. He’s a tremendous leader. He’s a great quarterback and it starts with him.”

Tettleton’s counterpart is just as dangerous. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato has thrown for six touchdowns with just one interception this season. Through the air, the junior is averaging 241.5 yards per game. Teammate Tommy Shuler has emerged as his favorite target with 14 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns.

Also in the Marshall backfield, Steward Butler has gained 258 yards and scored three touchdowns, and Essray Taliaferro has contributed 133 yards on the ground with one TD.

“We like to be able to continue to run a balanced offense,” Holliday said. “It all depends on what they give us defensively. I’ve said since day one that we may not be better on the stat sheet, but we have a better offense. That’s kind of where we are at this point and we’d like to continue that trend.

“I don’t think there is any doubt our offensive line has gotten better. I’d like to get to that point when people are talking about us and our offensive line. I think we’ve made great progress.”

Defensively, Ohio is led by sophomore linebacker Jovon Johnson, who was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Week for the East Division. In his first career start, Johnson helped anchor an Ohio defensive unit which limited North Texas to 2.7 yards rushing per carry.

Johnson registered a pair of solo tackles, recovered one fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown.