HUNTINGTON — Zero.
That is the number of passes Marshall quarterbacks completed to guys in a Marshall uniform in the first half of Friday’s Conference USA Championship game.
Marshall quarterback Grant Wells struggled in a five-interception game in the loss to Rice two weeks ago, and those struggles continued Friday night as Wells did not connect on any of his 10 passing attempts in the first half of Friday’s title matchup with UAB.
Wells tried to target tight end Xavier Gaines early on with several passes heading Gaines’ way, but UAB’s defenders were in position and did not allow any separation.
Instead of being the target, Gaines — who was recruited to Marshall as a quarterback and later moved to tight end — ended up replacing Wells behind center late in the first half with the Herd looking for a spark.
Gaines was successful with his legs, getting two of Marshall’s three first downs in the opening half on designed runs.
However, his lone pass attempt was a deep ball late in the half intended for Marshall wide receiver Willie Johnson that UAB’s Grayson Cash hauled in along the Blazers’ sidelines to end a first half in which Marshall was out-gained, 240-80.
The offensive futility for Marshall reached epic proportions over the last two games of action.
Marshall’s offense had not scored since the 1:48 mark of the third quarter of the win over Middle Tennessee — a stretch that spanned seven quarters.
As of halftime of Friday’s Conference USA Championship, the total of game-time since Marshall had scored was 106 minutes, 48 seconds.
GROUND SUCCESS: UAB rushed for 131 yards in the first half against Marshall.
Even by halftime, that represented the most rushing yards Marshall gave up in a game this season.
The previous high was 127 — the only other time Marshall allowed 100 rushing yards in a game.
That came in the 20-0 loss to Rice.
STARTS WITH DEFENSE: UAB took a 9-0 lead into the locker room, which was the lowest scoring first half in Conference USA Championship history.
The previous low came in 2010 when UCF led SMU, 10-0, at the half.
Marshall and UAB combined for just three points in the first quarter, which was the first time in Conference USA history that a touchdown had not been scored in the opening quarter of the title game.
Neither team is used to scoring much in the first quarter of its championship appearances, though.
Marshall has not scored in the first quarter of any of its three appearances in the Conference USA Championship.
Meanwhile, Matt Quinn’s 30-yard field goal was the only points UAB has ever had in its three championship game appearances, too.
CHAMPIONSHIP FAMILIARITY: UAB made the trip to the Conference USA Championship for the third straight season under head coach Bill Clark.
All three of those games have sent the Blazers on the road, as well.
In 2018, UAB defeated Middle Tennessee, 27-25, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to claim the school’s first title.
In 2019, the Blazers suffered a 49-6 loss to Florida Atlantic.