BOONE, N.C. — Not nearly as epic as the last time, but it was still another disastrous fourth quarter collapse.
For the second consecutive week, the Marshall football team entered the fourth period with a lead and eventually watched it disappear Thursday night as host Appalachian State scored 10 unanswered points down the stretch to claim a 31-30 non-conference victory at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
In a game that featured seven lead changes, it was the Mountaineers (3-1) who made the most of the final 15 minutes of regulation as ASU produced consecutive scoring drives that turned a 30-21 end of third quarter deficit into the slimmest of 1-point leads.
After a pivotal defensive stop late in the fourth, Appalachian State ran five plays and converted four first downs while moving the ball from its own eight down to the MU 5 with just over a minute left in regulation. The hosts took a pair of knees to close out the 1-point outcome from there.
The Thundering Herd (2-2) — which led East Carolina last weekend by 17 points headed into the finale before dropping a 42-38 decision — were outgained by a sizable 566-397 overall margin in total yards of offense, including a 283-127 discrepancy in rushing yards.
The Herd finished the night plus-2 in turnover differential and came away with the only takeaways of the contest, but the Mountaineers still managed 38 of the 58 first downs in the contest.
Leading 30-28 with just over 10 minutes to go in regulation, Shane Ciucci missed a 32-yard field goal that would have put Marshall ahead by five points. It was also the only miss for Ciucci on the night as the redshirt sophomore converted three other field goals and three extra points.
ASU followed the Ciucci miss by marching 52 yards in nine plays, then Chandler Staton converted a 45-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner with 5:45 left. It was the only field goal that Staton attempted and he was also 4-for-4 on PAT boots.
Camerun Peoples accounted for all three Appalachian State touchdowns in the first half, including a 1-yard run with 9:38 left in the first quarter for a quick 7-0 lead.
Ciucci added field goals of 22 and 33 yards and closed the gap down to 7-6 after one quarter of play.
Marshall took its first lead of the night on a 56-yard scoring pass from Grant Wells to Xavier Gaines, making it a 13-7 contest with 12:36 left before the half.
Peoples added a 2-yard scamper with 7:13 remaining for a 14-13 ASU edge, but Rasheen Ali returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score while giving the Herd a 20-14 advantage with 7:01 remaining.
Peoples tacked on a 2-yard touchdown run with just four seconds left before half, giving the hosts a 21-20 intermission advantage.
Ciucci reclaimed the lead for Marshall with a 46-yard field goal at the 7:54 mark of the third, then Ali added an 8-yard jaunt to the end zone for a 30-21 cushion with 4:16 remaining in the third frame.
Corey Sutton hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Chase Brice 51 seconds into the fourth quarter, cutting the ASU deficit down to 30-28.
Ali led the MU ground attack with 83 yards on 17 attempts, while Wells completed 18-of-33 pass attempts for 270 yards. Gaines led the Marshall wideouts with five catches for 104 yards.
Nate Noel paced Appalachian State with 187 rushing yards on 20 carries, while Brice completed 24-of-39 passes for 283 yards. Sutton hauled in 10 passes for 127 yards for the hosts.
Micah Abraham intercepted a pass and Eli Neal recovered a fumble for Marshall, with both of those takeaways coming in the third quarter. The turnovers also turned into all 10 of the Herd’s second half points.
The Mountaineers snapped a 3-game skid against Marshall and now lead the all-time series by a 15-9 overall margin. It was also the first win for ASU over the Herd at home since 1994 and their first victory in the head-to-head matchup since 1995.
Marshall opens Conference USA play next Saturday when it travels to Murfreesboro to battle Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.