Herd ‘Knox’ out the 49ers
MARSHALL 30, CHARLOTTE 13
HUNTINGTON — Facing adversity and a tied game against the Charlotte 49ers in the third quarter, Marshall University’s football team needed a lift.
On a day when Marshall (6-3, 4-2 Conference USA) was honoring victims of the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash, the Thundering Herd seemed to have a few extra players as the second half wore on.
Marshall used a strong defensive effort and the emergence of running back Brenden Knox in the second half to fuel a 30-13 victory in front of 19,418 spectators in Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
“We’re excited about our football team and the way they played,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “We’ve got to come back and get ready to roll, but it was a great evening.”
With running backs Tyler King and Keion Davis sidelined, Knox went into action when Anthony Anderson was injured on a fumble on the opening drive of the third quarter.
The redshirt freshman from Columbus responded, logging 22 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown.
“It was nothing different,” Knox said. “It’s
the same things that our coaches coach — just hold onto the ball and be the best we can be in the little things.”
Knox’s 4-yard touchdown capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive when Marshall answered after Charlotte turned the Anderson fumble into a Jonathan Cruz field goal to knot the game 13-13.
It was a statement drive by the Herd, especially after the offense struggled to move things in the first half.
“The first drive of the second half is big, and when you come out the first play and turn the ball over, that puts a lot of pressure on the next time you get the ball because momentum is going their way,” Marshall offensive lineman Jordan Dowrey said. “That can get out of control. When momentum shifts like that, at an important point, you have to go out and get the momentum back.”
Holliday credited offensive line coach Greg Adkins for helping install some running plays that played to the Herd’s advantage and led to Knox being the first 100-yard back allowed by the 49ers all season.
“We spent a little extra time trying to figure out some runs and those types of things,” Adkins said. “They worked out pretty good for us. We were efficient running the football. The mentality was that the windows were going to close pretty fast with the way they had played the run game. The design of the runs were to try to separate the defense a little bit and give us more space.”
Following Knox’s touchdown, the Marshall defense took the field energized and forced two straight three-and-outs that fueled a sequence when Marshall scored 17 consecutive points to take control.
Marshall’s defense allowed just 14 total yards to the 49ers on 21 second-half plays. The defense was led by senior linebacker Frankie Hernandez, who finished with 11 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, which included a quarterback sack.
“We never know who it’s going to be, but everybody has got it in them,” Hernandez said. “Everybody just goes to work every day and that’s pretty much how we go.”
Obi Obialo added a 10-yard touchdown reception from Isaiah Green and Justin Rohrwasser added a 23-yard field goal — his third of the game — to set the final score.
Green finished the game 15 of 25 passing for 178 yards and a touchdown while leading a Marshall offense that did not turn the ball over.
Marshall took a 13-10 lead at the halftime break despite Charlotte’s offense putting together a drive at the end of the second quarter that led to a 40-yard field goal by Jonathan Cruz as time expired in the half.
Charlotte (4-6, 3-3) took an early lead, but Marshall scored 13 straight points with 10 coming on consecutive possessions.
After a 23-yard field goal by Rohrwasser, Marshall’s defense forced a punt before special teams came up with a huge play to give the Herd the lead in the first quarter.
Marshall’s Darius Hodge broke through the line and blocked a Kyle Corbett punt. The ball bounded into the arms of Naquan Renalds, who fell on it at the 1-yard line. One play later, Anderson went into the end zone to give the Herd a 10-7 lead. Rohrwasser added a 33-yard field goal to increase the lead to 13-7 before Charlotte’s late drive.
Charlotte came into the game at No. 3 in FBS in time of possession and dominated the first-half tally, possessing the ball for a 2-to-1 ratio on the Herd. However, Marshall closed that gap with its strong third quarter in which the team had possession for more than 10 minutes.
With the win, Marshall is bowl eligible as it heads into Senior Day against UTSA, which is a 2:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
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