Herd makes point
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Marshall University football players tried to stay politically correct all week when asked about going into M.M. Roberts Stadium as an underdog.
They acted as though it was just a figure.
But, it burned inside them.
It burned inside when the Thundering Herd went to work Tuesday for a spirited practice.
It continued to burn when they walked on the field Saturday night before recording a 59-24 rout of winless Southern Miss, which dropped its seventh consecutive game.
The 35-point loss was the worst-ever in Conference USA for Southern Miss.
“We were a 3-point underdog, so we really felt like we had to get after them,” Marshall running back Kevin Grooms said. “After we watched film over and over and over, we knew they couldn’t stop our offense.”
Marshall’s offense rolled to 629 yards and scored 59 points on Southern Miss — the most allowed by the Golden Eagles since giving up 61 to Florida State in 1987.
More importantly, the defense showed vast improvements, especially in stopping a dual-threat quarterback.
Southern Miss quarterback Anthony Alford gained just 77 yards of total offense in three quarters of work — 65 passing and 12 rushing on 10 carries.
Marshall’s first-string defense allowed just one touchdown, that coming in the second quarter. Southern Miss scored a touchdown on an interception and got its final score with two minutes remaining against the Herd reserve players.
Also, after squandering early opportunities to put the game out of reach, the Herd came out in the second half and stepped on the throttle.
Marshall’s defense set the tone in the second half with a pair of three-and-outs that were followed quickly by Herd offensive touchdowns.
The end result was a string of 35 consecutive points.
It wasn’t just a win, though.
This was the type of win that can resonate for weeks.
If Marshall had lost, the Herd would have been 2-5 going against conference favorite UCF in its next game. instead, the Herd (3-4) goes into a two-game stretch of home games very much in the conference race at 2-1.
Players had talked all week about how the second half of the season would be different/
On Saturday, they took that first big step.