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Herd football tops EKU in home opener

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Richard Crank
Redshirt senior running back Anthony Anderson (right) and junior long snapper Matt Beardall (left) lead the Herd out of the tunnel pregame.

Marshall Thundering Herd football defeated the Eastern Kentucky Colonels 32-16 Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The win moved Marshall to a record of 2-0, while EKU fell to a record of 1-1.

“Every week, somebody gets beat that shouldn’t and that wasn’t us tonight,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “To (EKU’s) credit, they played extremely hard. At the end of the day, we found a way to win and that’s all that matters.”

Marshall hadn’t committed a turnover this season before Saturday. However, the Herd and Colonels combined for 9 turnovers throughout the contest (Marshall 4, EKU 5). Three Marshall turnovers came off fumbled kick returns.

“We haven’t seen that around here in a long, long time, and you won’t see it again,” Holliday said. “To our defense’s credit, they created five turnovers. Believe it or not, we ended up winning the turnover battle.”

The Herd jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, after a 20-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman Isaiah Green to junior wide receiver Obi Obialo. The touchdown concluded a possession in which Marshall drove 94 yards over 12 plays. Eastern Kentucky blocked the Herd’s extra point attempt, which made the score 6-0 Marshall with 4:28 left in the first quarter.

Marshall extended its lead to 13 before the end of the first quarter. The sequence started as Marshall redshirt sophomore safety Brandon Drayton intercepted an EKU. Then, a 6-yard touchdown pass from Green to redshirt senior wide receiver Tyre Brady gave the Herd a 13-0 lead leading into the second quarter.

“When a team needs a play to be made, somebody has to do it,” Green said. “We had a couple of players do that tonight. I’ve got a lot of players around me that have the ability to make big plays, so I just give them the chance to do that. “

In the second quarter, EKU recovered a fumble on a punt that bounced off redshirt sophomore tight end Xavier Gaines. It took the Colonels three plays to score off a two-yard run by redshirt senior running back L.J. Scott. EKU failed a two-point conversion attempt, which brought the score to 13-6.

Marshall went into halftime with the lead over the Colonels 20-6, after a second quarter touchdown from redshirt sophomore running back Tyler King—his first touchdown of the year.

In the second half, special teams woes struck again for Marshall, as EKU recovered a fumble on the half’s opening kickoff. EKU converted the turnover into a 30-yard touchdown drive capped by a rush from sophomore running back Alonzo Booth, which brought the score to 20-13.

Marshall defense held EKU to a field goal for the remainder of the game. The Herd’s offense tacked on 12 points of its own in the second half, with a third quarter Obialo touchdown, a field goal (its first of the season) and a safety. The safety, courtesy of a sack from redshirt senior defensive lineman Malik Thompson, brought the game to its final score of 32-16.

Green made his second consecutive start under-center for the Herd. He completed 23 of his 39 pass attempts for three touchdowns and one interception—a pass that bounced out of the hands of Brady and into those of an EKU defender. Green said he was humbled by his first start at the Joan.

“It was an amazing experience to see all the green and white, and people going crazy every time a play was made,” Green said.

The Thundering Herd will hit the road for the second time this season, as it heads to Williams-Brice Stadium to face the Gamecocks of South Carolina Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Derek Gilbert can be contacted at [email protected]

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