Charlotte 49ers gaze bowl eligibilty against Thundering Herd


Richard Crank

Brenden Knox and another football player celebrate after the touchdown in Saturday matchup against LA Tech.

The Thundering Herd will lean on toughness and leadership when traveling to Jerry Richardson Stadium in North Carolina to face the Charlotte 49ers, with the opportunity to become bowl eligible if they win. 

 “Anytime you go on the road, you have to take your toughness and leadership,” Head Coach Doc Holliday said. “We are playing a team that is fighting to get bowl eligible, so it will be important to be prepared and get ready to go play.”

The Marshall University football team has won its last five contests. They most recently knocked off Louisiana Tech, who was previously first in the west in Conference USA, 31-10. 

In the game, senior wide receiver Obi Obialo made a surprise season debut for the Herd after dealing with an injury all season that was expected to keep him sidelined for the entirety of the season. Obialo’s impact was immediately felt and shifted the play for Marshall as he recorded career highs with eight receptions and 146 yards in a game posting. 

His presence, along with redshirt sophomore running back Brenden Knox’s dominant running game, should keep Charlotte from keying the run as much. It will also open up the playbook for Holliday’s team since redshirt sophomore quarterback Isaiah Green has relied on the underclassmen in the wide receiver position to step up in the absence of veterans on the team. 

“We missed Obi,” Holliday said. “He is just a talented guy, and I am glad he is back out there now.”

Throughout the season, Green has put up impressive numbers despite the absence of veteran playmakers on the outside. The Marshall quarterback now has 2,089 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, with an overall completion percentage of 59.7%. 

Charlotte is on a win streak of its own—beating North Texas 39-38, Middle Tennessee 34-20 and UTEP 28-21 in its last three matchups—with a record of 5-5 (3-3 C-USA). Another 49er win this season would mark the second time the program would be bowl eligible since its inaugural season in 2013 and potentially get its first bowl bid.

With the 49ers playing great football as of late, the Marshall defense now shifts focus on containing sophomore quarterback Chris Reynolds, who has thrown for 882-yards, thrown six touchdowns, rushed for 290-yards and rushed two touchdowns during the three-game win streak. 

“He is one of those guys that has that ‘A’ factor,” senior defensive back Chris Jackson said. “(Reynolds) will create big plays on his own. With his feet or with his arm, he is just a baller.”

The Thundering Herd defense has only allowed two touchdowns in its past two games, resulting in redshirt junior linebacker Tavante Beckett taking home Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors in week 12.  

Captains for Holliday’s squad are Knox, redshirt senior tight end Armani Levias on offense and Beckett and Jackson for defense.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 at Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Brigham Warf can be contacted at [email protected].