Herd football has first three game losing streak since 2010

Richard Crank

Marshall University was defeated by the University of Pittsburgh Panthers 43 – 27 Saturday. This is the first time since 2010 Marshall has had a three game losing streak.
“We got it to a one score and couldn’t finish it,” Marshall University head coach Doc Holliday said. “Every goal is to win our conference championship, so we gotta go back to work.”

In the first half, Marshall was dominated by a complete team performance by Pitt, with a mix of Nathan Peterman passing and Chawntez Moss rushing. Marshall surrendered 202 rushing yards and the half ended with Pitt dominating 27 – 0 on the scoreboard.

In an effort to counter the potent rushing attack, the Thundering Herd was in mostly man-to-man coverage, with Peterman picking apart the Herd secondary. Peterman had nine completions on 13 attempts for 152 yards, with one touchdown.

Bright spots for the Thundering Herd were few, but the best may have been the return of Chase Litton. Litton started the game four for four on the first drive, but the drive stalled around the Pitt 40 yard-line. Litton went 10 completions on 13 attempts for 95 yards, but with no rushing game to compliment Litton, Pitt thoroughly contained the Marshall offense.

There were many telling stats, but one of the biggest indicators may have been first downs. Marshall earned one first down on their first possession and earned two first downs in the rest of the first half.

Pitt accumulated 21 first downs and seemingly moved the ball with relative ease, with the possible exception being a fourth down stand the Thundering Herd made, stuffing Pitt on the goal line.

In the second half, Marshall staged a furious comeback, started off by two touchdown drives. The first drive, a 15 play 80-yard drive, was capped off by a Litton to Josh Knight 15-yard pass. That drive saw the Thundering Herd offense start to click as Keion Davis and Anthony Anderson added some rushing, mixing up the attack to keep the Pitt Defense off balance.

The second scoring drive was started by an onside kick and Marshall easily recovered the ball with a standing receiver at the Pitt 47-yard line. Marshall then put together an eight play 47-yard drive, where Anderson ended the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run and 5:20 remaining in the third quarter, cutting the Panther lead to 27 – 14.

The Panthers added a field goal, but the Thundering Herd kept fighting. Litton connected with Michael Clark on crossing route, with Clark’s defender getting out of position, allowing Clark to run free 83 yards for a touchdown. The defense held, stuffing a fake field goal, and Marshall put together another scoring drive as Keion Davis stuffed the ball into the end zone with 4:01 in the game, cutting the Pitt lead to 30 – 27, but that is as close as it would get.

“They got two dimensional in the third quarter,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “That comes down to alignments, and we’ll go back and watch the tape, but we got to learn how to finish the third quarter.”

The Marshall defense attempted to make its stand and force a punt, but a critical third down conversion, followed by a third down conversion that went for a touchdown, effectively ended the game. During the following drive, Litton threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown with no time remaining.

Marshall University will next play on Oct. 8 in Denton, Texas taking on the University of North Texas. The next Thundering Herd home game is Oct. 15 versus Florida Atlantic University.

Joseph Ashley can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @Joseph_AshleyMU.