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Herd football travels to Virginia for C-USA showdown

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Herd football travels to Virginia for C-USA showdown

Marshall redshirt junior quarterback Alex Thomson prepares to take a snap under-center against MTSU in Saturday’s home loss--his first game for the Herd.

Marshall redshirt junior quarterback Alex Thomson prepares to take a snap under-center against MTSU in Saturday’s home loss--his first game for the Herd.

Richard Crank

Marshall redshirt junior quarterback Alex Thomson prepares to take a snap under-center against MTSU in Saturday’s home loss--his first game for the Herd.

Richard Crank

Richard Crank

Marshall redshirt junior quarterback Alex Thomson prepares to take a snap under-center against MTSU in Saturday’s home loss--his first game for the Herd.

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The Marshall University football team (3-2, 1-1 Conference USA) looks to add a second conference win Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Old Dominion University (1-5, 0-3 C-USA) in Norfolk, Virginia.

“(ODU is) a dangerous team that we have to do a great job of going in there and being prepared to play,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “I know our team’s anxious to go down there and play well.”

This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams, and Marshall has a 3-1 advantage. Marshall defeated ODU last year in Huntington, 35-3. Both teams are coming off losses from last week.

Last month, the Monarchs beat then-No. 13 Virginia Tech—their only win of the season. ODU’s offense is led by junior quarterback Blake LaRussa, who completed 39-of-51 passes for 390 yards and threw for two touchdowns and two interceptions last week against Florida Atlantic University. It was his second-career 300-yard game, according to ODU’s game notes.

LaRussa has help from junior running back Kesean Strong, who had 21 carries for 99 yards and four touchdowns last week—all career-highs. The Monarchs also have strength at receiver, with senior Jonathan Duhart registering his fifth-straight 100-yard receiving game. Duhart is fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) with 117.7 receiving yards per game. Another receiver to watch will be senior Travis Fulgham, who notched his career-best 10 receptions, gaining 151 yards and a touchdown against FAU.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Monarchs have senior defensive end Oshane Ximines, who had four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack last week. Ximines is second among active FBS players with 28.5 sacks, and holds the ODU single-season and career sack record. The defense also has sophomore linebacker Lawrence Garner who has a Conference USA-best 69 tackles—which is 10th in
the FBS.

For the Herd, junior quarterback Alex Thomson made his first career start last weekend versus Middle Tennessee State University in place of redshirt freshman Isaiah Green. During his first start, Thomson completed 17-of-34 passes and threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Thomson played for Wagner College last season, where his season ended because of a shoulder injury suffered during the second game of the season. Thomson said players shouldn’t take playing football for granted.

“It’s a blessing, people don’t understand how much pain I went through not being able to play last year,” Thomson said. “I told my teammates don’t take anything for granted because you never know when it’s going to be your last play of the season.”

Thomson has help from sophomore running back Tyler King, who set career-highs last weekend in carries (27) and rushing yards (165). It was also his fifth-career 100-yard rushing game. The Herd also has redshirt senior Tyre Brady who ranks 25th in the nation in receptions per game (6.4) and is tied for 27th in the nation with five touchdown receptions.

The Herd’s defense has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown in eight consecutive games. The defense has also recorded 17 quarterback sacks through five games. Redshirt freshman defensive end Darius Hodge recorded his first sack of his collegiate career last weekend. In the same game, redshirt senior defensive end Juwon Young recorded his first strip-sack of the season.

Morgan Griffith can be contacted at [email protected]

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