Marshall notebook: Smith finally finds paydirt
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Lee Smith was well aware of the fact he never had scored a collegiate touchdown.
His Marshall teammates made sure of that.
"They never let me hear the end of that," said the Herd's star senior tight end with a huge grin. "I've just been a glorified offensive lineman."
But, not anymore.
Besides catching his first collegiate touchdown pass Saturday with a 4-yard grab during the first quarter of Marshall's 31-17 win over UAB in Legion Field, Smith also hauled in a second touchdown reception in the fourth period on a 8-yard catch.
When he reigns, he pours.
"It's easy to catch a ball when no one is guarding you," said Smith, a 6-foot-6, 262-pound senior. "I give that first touchdown to Brian Anderson and Coach (Bill) Legg (offensive coordinator."
Besides the pair of touchdown catches, Smith also had seven other receptions with five of them resulting in first downs. He was a big reason why Marshall was an impressive 10-for-20 on third-down conversions.
"It was just awesome that my family was here to see this," said Smith. "For them to be here made it special. My wife, kids, in-laws and brother-in-law were here."
They all watched Smith catch a career-high nine passes for 81 yards and, yes, two touchdowns.
"You know what?" said Smith. "I don't think I've ever seen more players congratulate a guy after a touchdown."
It was a long time coming.
WALKING WOUNDED: Starting wide receiver Antavious Wilson sat out the game because of a knee injury he suffered against UTEP last week.
And, Wilson soon had plenty of company.
Starting running back Tron Martinez suffered a leg injury in the first quarter and was used sporadically after that.
"I'm not sure what Tron's deal is," said Marshall head coach Doc Holliday. "He was banged up after the UTEP game."
Then, the Herd also lost reserve running back Andre Booker after he absorbed a hard tackle in the third quarter. After the game, Booker was on crutches with a protective boot on his right foot.
"It's his ankle," said Holliday.
Also, Marquis Aiken, who had started the last two games at defensive end, didn't play.
On the positive side, true freshman wide receiver Demetrius Evans made his first appearance after suffering an injury against UTEP.
SPEAKING OF WOUNDED: Marshall defensive coordinator Chris Rippon also took a shot.
"Coach Rippon got run over in the first quarter and we were seriously concerned about him," said Holliday. "But he's tough. He came back and called a great game."
Rippon was not wearing a protective glove on his play-signaling hand after the game.
ONCE AROUND THE LINEUP: Gimpy offensive guard Landis Provancha played most of the game, as his chronic ankle seemed improved.
Also, Michael Janac made his third start of the season at defensive tackle, as the Herd opened in a four-man front. James Rouse also got the starting nod at defensive end.
WORTH NOTICING: Place-kicker Tyler Warner connected on a career-long 41-yard field goal with just five seconds remaining in the first half to supply a 17-14 lead for Marshall.
Also, sophomore strong safety Donald Brown grabbed his third interception of the season.
HEY DONALD: Holliday shook his head with amusement when asked about Donald Brown's interception and inexplicable slide after returning it only three yards.
"I said, 'What did you slide for?' " said Holliday. "We talk about that in the last two minutes of a game. But there were five minutes left.
"I was ready to choke him."
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.