The Tri-State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to Herald-Dispatch.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

20210912 mu football 10.jpg

Marshall's Abraham Beauplan (7) sacks North Carolina Central quarterback Davius Richard (11) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington. The Herd defense has 17 sacks on the season, which is tied with LSU for No. 1 in FBS. Marshall also has 28 tackles for loss, which is 9th.

HUNTINGTON — For Marshall’s football team, it hopes to not be experiencing de ja vu at the end of the weekend.

In 2019, Marshall went to Charlotte with control of Conference USA’s East Division in its own hands. Meanwhile, the 49ers were desperate to earn their first bowl appearance.

That ended with Charlotte out-executing Marshall en route to a 24-13 win that ended any hopes of a C-USA title for the Thundering Herd.

As Marshall gets set for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. battle with the 49ers, the scenarios are strikingly similar.

Again, the Herd has control of its own East Division destiny and Charlotte is on the cusp of a bowl berth as the teams meet in a game televised by Stadium.

Marshall (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) is hoping to not let history repeat itself against the 49ers.

“That’s something I haven’t forgotten about and a lot of our leadership hasn’t forgotten about,” Marshall offensive lineman Will Ulmer said. “I’m just excited because of the opportunity that we put ourselves in.”

For Marshall to get a win on Saturday, it needs to take care of two main issues — one on each side of the football — that has plagued the team in 2021.

Offensively, quarterback Grant Wells must execute in key situations, avoiding turnovers while also improving on third downs — an area where Marshall struggled mightily in a 21-14 loss to UAB. The Herd offense was just 1 of 12 in those situations last week.

Defensively, Marshall must eliminate the big plays that have been a constant. When it comes down to meaningful games at the end of the season, those three or four plays that the Herd have surrendered can be the difference.

They were last week against UAB, as well.

On both sides of the football, Marshall head coach Charles Huff is calling for consistent execution.

“When we executed consistently, we moved the ball and stopped them on defense,” Huff said. “When we didn’t, we gave up big plays on defense and, obviously, being one for 12 on third down is definitely not executing consistently.”

With both teams coming into the game off of losses, each will be eager to get the bitter taste out of their mouths.

Charlotte (5-5, 3-3 C-USA), who fell 42-32 at Louisiana Tech last week, has one last chance for its seniors to play at Richardson Stadium in front of the home crowd, meaning there will be an energy about Senior Day.

One of those seniors for the 49ers is quarterback Chris Reynolds, who tore the Marshall defense apart in both facets in the 2019 win. In that game, Reynolds rushed for 145 yards and a score in a driving rain while throwing for two scores to lead the 49ers to the win.

Reynolds will be a focal point of the Herd defense on Saturday. Marshall must find ways to get Reynolds and the Charlotte offense off the field, which plagued them in the loss to UAB.

Huff said from the beginning that the goal for Marshall is to close the gap on winning a championship in Huntington.

The biggest hurdle for Marshall, to date, stares them in the face on Saturday when they hit the road in hopes of setting up a winner-take-all battle in the regular season finale against Western Kentucky.

In each of the last two years, Marshall has been close to a title, but not gotten its prize.

Huff would like to end his first season by turning that around — something the Herd can take a step toward with a big road win Saturday.

“This is not horseshoes or hand grenades,” Huff said. “You don’t get points for being close.”

Grant Traylor is the sports editor of The Herald-Dispatch, who also covers Marshall athletics for HD Media. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Recommended for you