Herd dominates Gardner-Webb, 55-0
HUNTINGTON — For the first time since 1999, Marshall moved to 2-0 on the season.
And the Herd did so in emphatic fashion.
Steward Butler’s three-touchdown night highlighted a terrific all-around performance for the Herd in a 55-0 win over Gardner-Webb in front of 26,317 fans at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
“Our preparation all week was great,” Marshall football coach Doc Holliday said. “I thought Tuesday and Wednesday was when the game was won during the week as far as practice goes. We practiced extremely well and I think it showed early.”
It was the Herd’s first shutout win since defeating Ohio 28-0 on Nov. 28, 2003.
The Herd offense amassed 509 yards and the defense continued its dominance by forcing six turnovers in the contest.
Butler finished with 151 yards and the three scores on just nine carries as he propelled the team to a big lead early in the contest.
The momentum for Butler started when he returned the opening kickoff 45 yards to set the Herd up with prime field position.
“It wasn’t just me getting momentum, it gave the team momentum,” Butler said. “It showed everyone that we were ready. We weren’t trying to play around with them. We came out to play football. It was pretty big.”
His first-quarter touchdown runs covered 9 and 46 yards to get the Herd started off well and he added a 13-yard score midway through the third quarter that ended the night for the first-team offense.
The success of the rushing attack — 224 yards on 39 carries — made for an easy night for Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, who finished 16-of-28 for 230 yards and a 44-yard touchdown to Tommy Shuler. Cato also had an 8-yard touchdown run.
Cato and the offense benefited from a defense that forced six turnovers — three fumbles, three interceptions — to provide Marshall with short fields.
“Anytime you can create six turnovers on defense and score, for that matter, you have a great shot of winning the game pretty decisively,” Holliday said.
Since being tied at halftime with Miami (Ohio), Marshall’s defense has allowed just 239 yards of total offense and zero points over the last six quarters.
Gardner-Webb finished the game with just 184 yards of total offense.
“That just looks real good on the defense,” Marshall defensive tackle Steve Dillon said. “At the hotel, we were all talking about how we wanted to dominate this game. It was nice to come out and finish it.”
For the second-straight game, Marshall got an interception return for a touchdown when Monterius Lovett returned a Lucas Beatty interception 70 yards for a score in the second quarter.
Justin Haig connected on field goals of 31 and 25 yards as Marshall took a 34-0 lead into the locker room.
Marshall travels to Athens, Ohio, for its first road contest of the season next week to take on the Ohio Bobcats in an 8 p.m. start from Peden Stadium.
The Bobcats have defeated Marshall in each of the last two seasons.
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