HUNTINGTON – All week, Marshall had one goal on its board in the team room: Finish.
On Saturday afternoon, the completion of that goal helped the Thundering Herd end a two-game losing streak.
A strong fourth-quarter effort led Marshall to a 31-17 win over Old Dominion in front of 18,351 fans on Military Appreciation Day at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The game was in the balance as the teams went to the fourth quarter with Marshall leading 24-17. However, Old Dominion took possession early in the frame and drove to the Marshall 42 with a chance to tie the game up.
That’s when the complexion changed. Marshall linebacker Tyler Brown came free on a blitz and sacked Old Dominion’s Messiah deWeaver – the Herd’s eighth sack of the day – to help stop a drive and force a punt.
From there, Marshall’s offensive line took over, helping the Herd grind out a 10-play, 77-yard drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock, culminating with Brenden Knox’s 6-yard touchdown run that pushed it to two scores.
Marshall finished the game with 444 yards of total offense, including 236 on the ground – the most Old Dominion has given up on the ground in a game in 2019. The Monarchs came in with a top-25 rush defense nationally.
Brenden Knox led the charge with 104 yards on 24 carries and the game-sealing touchdown.
More importantly, Marshall had no turnovers in this contest. Quarterback Isaiah Green was 19-of-31 for 175 yards with a touchdown while rushing for 59 yards as well.
Prior to Knox’s touchdown run, the Herd had difficulty putting the Monarchs away – largely based on troubles with kickoff coverage.
Marshall’s kickoff coverage unit was a big hindrance for the Herd on Saturday afternoon with Old Dominion’s Blake Watson getting a pair of huge returns to help the Monarchs stay in striking distance.
After Willie Johnson scored on a 27-yard reverse to put Marshall up 24-10, Watson returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to set up a 24-yard scoring run by Kesean Strong to again cut it to a one-score game.
That came after Watson’s long return set up a Nick Rice 39-yard field goal to cut it to 17-10 at the break after Marshall’s Justin Rohrwasser hit a career-long 45-yard field goal.
Instead of Marshall taking a two-score lead into the locker room and getting possession to start the second half, it was a one-score game despite Marshall statistically dominating the first half.
Marshall’s defense gave Old Dominion trouble throughout the contest, registering eight sacks in the game. That figure included six in the first half when the Herd limited ODU to 106 total yards.
Leading the charge was Marshall defensive end Darius Hodge, who finished with seven tackles, including 4.5 sacks.
Linebacker Tavante Beckett – a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, which is near Old Dominion University – finished with 14 tackles.