Marshall University’s 49-7 victory over Navy was an absolute masterpiece.
Picasso would have claimed it.
But a week later?
Well, the Thundering Herd’s win over the extremely overmatched North Carolina Central Eagles was a paint-by-numbers.
Only Andy Warhol would have claimed it.
It wasn’t exactly a work of art. But, then again, what else can anybody expect when the home team is a 43-point favorite?
What wasn’t expected, however, was Marshall getting off to an extremely rough start. At Navy, the Herd came thundering out of the gates, rolling to a 21-0 lead.
But oddly enough, Marshall didn’t seem nearly as comfortable during its home-opener in the friendly confines of Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
It all started when N.C. Central was penalized on the opening kickoff for delay of game. Really? Who does that? Whether that un-nerved MU quarterback Grant Wells or not, he did fumble the first snap of the game.
Then, a handoff from Wells to running back Rasheen Ali was fumbled. Next, Wells threw an incompletion that nearly was intercepted. Then, MU’s J’Coryan Anderson was flagged for a false start while the Herd was trying to punt.
Why, even when Wells scampered 10 yards on a keeper for a touchdown, there were problems. This time Marshall lined up to attempt a two-point conversion, but inexplicably was penalized for delay of game. How does that happen? Then, of course, a pass fell incomplete so the two-point attempt failed, leaving MU with a 6-0 lead with 9:19 remaining in the first quarter.
It wasn’t exactly the kind of start anybody wants to have in their home-opener.
Yet, the ups and downs continued.
At the 5:32 mark of the first period, Wells was intercepted by N.C. Central’s Justin Nicholson in the end zone. Yet, the Eagles couldn’t take advantage of Marshall’s slow start. Not even a little. With 5:32 left in the first quarter, N.C. Central had three yards total offense. That’s all. Three measley yards.
That’s why it was so obvious that Marshall was going to hit its stride sooner or later. It was strictly a matter of time and, goodness knows, the Eagles were giving the Herd all the time it needed.
And that’s when it happened. Wells rifled a 14-yard touchdown pass to Talik Keaton that culminated a 14-play, 75-yard drive and gave MU a 13-0 lead.
That seemed to open the flood gates.
Wells threw a three-yard TD strike to Ali with 8:57 remaining in the second quarter to give MU a 20-0 lead. At that point, the redshirt freshman quarterback had brushed off his rough start so completely, he had completed 22 of 29 passes for 168 yards with three TDs and one interception.
And Wells wasn’t done.
Not even close.
With 2:04 remaining in the first half, Wells rifled a 46-yard touchdown pass to Keaton to extend MU’s lead to 27-7. And just for good measure, Marshall tacked on a short field goal for a 30-7 halftime lead.
Was the game over? Oh, yeah. Somebody definitely needed to stick a fork in it.
But Marshall and N.C. Central played another 30 minutes anyway. Well, at least the Herd did. But it really wasn’t necessary.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over.
Say good-night, Andy Warhol.