The Parthenon

Marshall football to open conference play this Saturday

Kyle Curley, Assistant Sports Editor

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Richard Crank

Marshall football (3-1) has an opportunity on the road this Saturday to open conference play with a win against the Charlotte 49ers (0-5, 0-1) at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

The last time these two conference rivals met, the 49ers came away victorious in 2016, 27-24. The loss is not forgotten on the Marshall football players.

“I don’t think you rate one loss high or one loss lower than the other,” Marshall starting quarterback Chase Litton said. “It’s a loss. You take it on the chin, and you move on but you don’t forget it. I know the guys here from last year are pissed off. They want to win, and I know the guys from this year are pissed off and want to win.”

The Charlotte 49ers offense has surpassed 250 rush yards in two of their last three outings and over 150 passing yards in each of their last three games. 49ers’ starting quarterback Hassan Klugh is fresh off a 107-rushing performance against FIU on Saturday.

“What separates him from other mobile quarterbacks is there are guys who are mobile and there are guys who are fast,” head coach Doc Holliday said. “And if he gets on the perimeter, he can outrun you. He outran us a year ago. With him, you better contain him, you better make sure you stay inside-out on him. He is not only mobile, he can beat you with his feet. He’s a threat on the perimeter every time he touches the ball.”

Klugh has had a hand in all 10 touchdowns (five passing, five rushing) for the 49ers this season.

“He’s a dangerous guy,” Holliday said. “We’ll take a guy this week who’s not a quarterback who can run really well and put him at quarterback to give us an opportunity to hopefully emulate his speed.”

Despite playing three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the offensive line, Marshall football ranks tied for 4th in the nation in sacks given up.

“Yeah everybody was giving our offensive line all kinds of crap last year for how bad they were and all that,” Thundering Herd starting tight end Ryan Yurachek said. “They are playing outstanding this year. You expect that (4th in sacks given up) from an offensive line with four or five seniors on it. You don’t expect that from an offensive line with three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior playing on it. That’s something that I think excites us as a football team.”

Litton’s fourth touchdown pass on Saturday against the Bearcats put him in sixth in program history in passing touchdowns with 55 touchdowns. Litton also continued his touchdown streak to 25 games, second in the nation behind Oklahoma Baker Mayfield (30).

“I think the biggest thing is he has become a better leader,” Yurachek said. “At quarterback, no matter what year you are, no matter what your statistics are, the biggest thing the about a quarterback is you have to be a leader. He has come in leaps and bounds as far as his leadership goes, and I think everybody looks to him more than everybody looked to him last year.”

The improvements to Litton’s game have been on display this season. He has amassed a stat line at 130.38 quarterback efficiency, completed 60 percent of his passes (90-150), 1014 total passing yards and eight touchdowns through four games this season.

“I’m proud of his grasp of the game,” Holliday said. “He’s become bigger and stronger, and I’m happy with his approach to everything he has done. I’m proud of the kid. He’s a captain this week. He’s grown so much as a person and as a player. That’s a credit to him, to Todd and all those guys because he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

The 49ers have allowed an average of 188.8 rushing yards per game this season for an NCAA ranking of 94th. Rushing is one area where the Herd believes they have improved, with the addition of freshman Tyler King and the continued success of redshirt junior Keion Davis.

“We’ve gotten better at running the football,” Holiday said. “Number one, our backs have gotten better. Our offensive line has gotten better. When we’ve had to run the football in the past two games in the fourth quarter, we’ve had the ability to do that. We’ll continue to get better.”

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game will be broadcasted live on WQCW for the tristate market.

Kyle Curley can be contacted at [email protected]

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