Marshall thunders over No. 23 Appalachian State, makes history

Up until No. 23 Appalachian State, the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team had never defeated a nationally ranked opponent in Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The last time the Herd defeated a nationally ranked team in Huntington was Miami (Ohio) in 1976. Also, the last time the Herd defeated a nationally ranked opponent was No. 6 Kansas State in 2003.

The final score was 17-7, in favor of the Thundering Herd.

Marshall (2-0) had more total yards than Appalachian State (1-1), 379-364. The Herd had more rushing yards, 216-96, over the Mountaineers.

“What a great football game that was,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “I’m really proud of our guys. I’m just so proud of our team to get this win. We had a chance to be special. Nothing changed my mind about that today. We went out and defeated a top 25 team.”

During the first quarter with 12:29 on the clock, redshirt junior running back Brenden Knox ran a two-yard touchdown, putting the Herd up early, 6-0. Then, redshirt sophomore kicker Shane Ciucci completed the extra point for Marshall to take the 7-0 lead.

The Mountaineers answered back in the first quarter with 7:11 on the clock as wide receiver Jalen Virgil caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mountaineer quarterback, Zach Thomas. On Thomas’ first drive, he surpassed 5,000 career passing yards. Appalachian State then tied the game, 7-7.

In the second quarter with 2:28 on the clock, Marshall kicker Shane Ciucci completed a 29-yard field goal to extend the Herd’s lead, 10-7. These were the only points scored in the entire second quarter as Appalachian State was held scoreless.

In the third quarter, Marshall redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells completed a pass to redshirt senior tight end Xavier Gaines for 67 yards. Following that play, with 4:44 on the clock, Wells rushed 12 yards to increase the Herd’s lead over the Mountaineers, 16-7. The Herd’s kicker, Ciucci, made the extra point for a 17-7 lead. The Mountaineers were held scoreless during the entire quarter again.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Mountaineers quarterback Thomas completed a pass to tight end Mike Evans for 41 yards to the Marshall five-yard line, but was force fumbled by redshirt senior safety Brandon Drayton and recovered by redshirt senior safety Nazeeh Johnson for a touchback. With 2:54 left in the game, Appalachian State attempted a 26-yard field goal, but it went wide right. Throughout the rest of the fourth quarter, the Herd and the Mountaineers remained scoreless.

“Congratulations to Marshall on a great victory,” Appalachian State head football coach Shawn Clark said. “That was a great rivalry and we hope that continues. We fought until the end. We can’t turn the ball over.”

On the Marshall offensive side, Knox had 28 attempts for 138 yards with his longest being 21 yards. Wells had six attempts for 43 yards. Redshirt junior running back Sheldon Evans had 10 attempts for 33 yards.

For the Marshall defense, redshirt senior linebacker Tavante Beckett recorded a career high 16 total tackles. Eight of those tackles were solo. Redshirt junior safety Derrek Pitts had nine total tackles with six of them being solo. Junior defensive back Steven Gilmore followed behind with seven total and four solo.

Up next for the Herd, it will have a few weeks of just practice until the team travels to Bowling Green, Kentucky to face the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers on Saturday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST/ 6:30 p.m. CST.

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected].