HUNTINGTON — Much of the focus went toward the Marshall offense and its inability to score for the majority of Saturday’s game, but within that contest, there was a solid defensive performance by the Herd that kept the team close enough to rally.
The Herd allowed just 314 total yards of offense to the Monarchs, including limiting ODU quarterback D.J. Mack to just three completions in the second half and overtime.
“There’s some things they’ve got to get cleaned up as well, but if they continue to make the right strides, I think we’re starting to see the type of defense we can be,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said.
Most importantly, when the Herd needed to buckle down and get stops, it was able to.
Like Marshall, Old Dominion moved into scoring range on a few occasions, only to have to settle for field goals or turn the ball over.
Marshall’s Steven Gilmore had an interception at the goal line to end one drive. The play was especially important because the Herd had given up a 43-yard run to ODU running back Blake Watson on a third-and-14 in which it lost contain on a run between the tackles.
There was also Herd safety Cory McCoy, who added another interception that led to an early field goal.
Much like last week against Middle Tennessee, Marshall’s defense got stronger as the game went on, allowing just a field goal in the final two quarters, which countered the offensive struggles.
Even that field goal was a long attempt by ODU’s Nick Rice, who connected from 45 yards.
With the performance on Saturday, Marshall’s defense has allowed just 13 points in the last six quarters, which will keep the team in a lot of ballgames.
Charlie Gray, who led Marshall with 11 tackles, said it was what the team is hoping for each week it takes the field.
“As a team, we’ve got to buckle up, handle business and do what we do,” Gray said.
ODU’S BLACKMON, HERD’S PORTER EJECTED: In the third quarter, Old Dominion’s Harrell Blackmon was ejected for targeting after helmet-to-helmet contact with Marshall tight end Devin Miller.
Blackmon was also banged up on the play.
With just seconds left in regulation, Marshall defensive end Owen Porter was flagged for targeting on a kickoff when he led with the crown of his helmet in coverage after the Herd tied it at 13.
Both players will be unavailable for the first half of their respective next games.
FLAG FEST: The first half of Saturday’s game was full of flags with the two teams combining for 16 penalties in the first two quarters.
Marshall had more penalties (9) than points (6) as the teams headed to the break.
The Herd finished with 12 penalties for 105 yards in the win while Old Dominion ended the game with nine penalties for 92 yards.
INTs FOR WELLS: With two interceptions on Saturday, Marshall quarterback Grant Wells is atop FBS with eight on the season after Saturday’s early afternoon games.
To Wells’ defense, one of his interceptions on Saturday came as a result of Corey Gammage slipping on the turf while coming out of a cut.
Wells was able to come back from the two early picks to throw a pair of touchdown passes on his final two throws of the afternoon. He finished 30 of 46 for 299 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
OH, SO CLOSE: Old Dominion kicker Nick Rice nearly ended the game on the final play Saturday.
Rice lined up for a 58-yard field goal, which was on line, but the kick fell just a half yard short of the crossbar.
It was so close that his holder started celebrating with him before Rice alerted him to the miss.
HIGHWAY 55: It was easy to spot Marshall’s captains on Saturday.
They were both wearing No. 55.
Captains were offensive lineman Alex Mollette and Porter.