BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Coming into Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, there was concern that Marshall may have a bit of rust after not having played since Sept. 19.
The Herd put those worries to rest quickly, showing its dominance in all facets to take a 28-0 halftime lead.
On the offensive end Marshall was balanced with Grant Wells completing his first seven passes and establishing a connection with Broc Thompson early, while running backs Brenden Knox and Sheldon Evans combined for all four first-half touchdowns – three by Knox.
Defensively, the Herd continued a strong start to 2020 that had them as the top scoring defense in FBS coming into the game.
Marshall’s defense forced two fumbles by WKU quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, both of which were recovered by linebacker Tavante Beckett. Each of those miscues led to touchdowns, including Knox’s 9-yard score that made it a four-score game at the break.
Knox rushed for 82 yards and three scores in the first half while the defense allowed just 79 yards in the first two quarters to seize control of the contest.
For the Herd, the question of rust or rest was answered after its layoff.
The Herd was rested and ready to go early on Saturday evening.
NOSE FOR THE BALL: Beckett tied a Herd record with three fumble recoveries in Saturday’s win.
Beckett recovered two first-half fumbles by Pigrome, then added a third that he returned 38 yards for a score in the third quarter.
The three fumble recoveries matched a mark set by two other Marshall players: Mike Bankston against Bowling Green in 1969 and Roy Kinnison against Northern Illinois in 1972.
SPECIAL TEAMS WERE … SPECIAL: One major aspect of Marshall’s success on Saturday night came in the game’s third phase where the Herd was exceptional in winning the field-position battle.
That started with punt returner Talik Keaton, who had three big returns in the first half, which set the Herd up well. Punter Robert LeFevre also dropped a punt inside the Western Kentucky 5-yard line to pin the Hilltoppers deep.
In WKU’s win over Middle Tennessee, the battle of special teams was the difference for the Hilltoppers.
Marshall turned that in its favor on Saturday night and helped flip the game.
ROOMMATE CONNECTION: Grant Wells needed someone to help his comfort level in his first road game as the starter for the Herd.
Wells didn’t have to look any further than his former roommate, wide receiver Broc Thompson. Thompson caught Wells’ first pass of the game – a 30-yard completion – to set the tone. The duo connected four times for 94 yards in the first half.
MILLER, SCARCELLE OUT: Of those who were expected to be among the Herd’s travel party to Bowling Green for the Western Kentucky game, only two players did not make the trip.
Those players were wide receiver Stone Scarcelle and tight end Devin Miller.
Marshall did have several true freshmen travel for the contest, including quarterback Eli Sammons, defensive backs De’Kwan Hughes, Kerion Martin and Daytione Smith, kicker Cameron Shirkey and defensive lineman Immanuel Bush.
C-USA NEWS: Florida Atlantic’s matchup at Southern Miss was canceled on Thursday due to COVID-19-related reasons, according to FAU.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes will always be our highest priority as we deal with this pandemic,” FAU Athletic Director Brian White said. “We’ll continue to work diligently with Conference USA and Southern Miss to reschedule this game.”