Undefeated No. 16 Marshall outlasts Minutemen

The No. 16 Marshall University Thundering Herd football team returned back to Huntington, West Virginia to face the University of Massachusetts Minutemen at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, where the Herd won 51-10.

The Herd improved to 6-0 (3-0 Conference USA) while the Minutemen fell to 0-2 on the season.

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said the team did not come out strong in the first half but did during the second half to secure the win.

“If you don’t have a mature football team, if you go out there and sleepwalk, you can go out there and have trouble with teams like that,” Holliday said. “I’m a little disappointed with that first half, but we came out in the second half and performed well.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells said every game is looked as a championship game.

“We treat every game like a championship,” Wells said. “If we don’t turn the ball over, knowing our defense is as good as it is, we’re gonna win a lot of games.”

In the first quarter, redshirt junior Brenden Knox ran 45-yards for an early touchdown and redshirt sophomore kicker Shane Ciucci completed the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Then, the Minutemen’s own Viczaril Alobwede threw a two-yard pass to Samuel Emilus for a touchdown. Jeremy Martin completed the extra point for UMass to tie the game 7-7.

Following the Minutemen’s touchdown, Knox rushed 45-yards for another Herd touchdown with Ciucci’s PAT good to put the Herd back on top 14-7.

In the second quarter, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Corey Gammage had a 19-yard pass from Wells for another Marshall touchdown. The PAT by Ciucci completed for the Herd to extend its lead 21-7.

Ciucci would then complete a 43-yard field goal, a career-long, for Marshall to extend its lead 24-7.

Following the Herd’s field goal, UMass’ Martin completed a 46-yard field goal to up the score 24-10.

Then, redshirt junior running back Sheldon Evans rushed 11-yards for another Herd touchdown with Ciucci’s completed PAT to lengthen Marshall’s lead 31-10 going into halftime.

In the third quarter, Wells completed a 13-yard pass to redshirt senior tight end Xavier Gaines for a Marshall touchdown. The PAT was not complete after a mishandle occurred with the snap of the ball, keeping the Herd at a 37-10 lead over the Minutemen.

UMass’ quarterback Will Koch was sacked for a loss of six yards by redshirt junior defensive lineman Jamare Edwards, which forced a fumble (his first career forced fumble) and was recovered by redshirt junior defensive lineman Darius Hodge. Marshall took possession and Wells would complete a 16-yard pass to Gaines for a Herd touchdown with Ciucci’s extra point fulfilled to boost Marshall’s lead 44-10 over UMass.

The Minutemen were held scoreless throughout the entire third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, sophomore running back Knowledge McDaniel rushed 14-yards for a touchdown for the Herd. Ciucci’s extra point attempt was successful, putting the Herd at a 51-10 advantage over the Minutemen.

The Minutemen was kept scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Marshall had 495 NET total yards compared to UMass’ 190. The Herd had 267 NET rushing yards while the Minutemen had 41.

The Marshall defense had 67 tackles, 25 solo tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

Up next for the Herd, it will face the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders on the 50th Anniversary of the Marshall Plane Crash, Saturday, Nov. 14 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.

“I don’t know if I can put that into words,” Wells said. “I’ve grown up around the story and heard about it since I could throw a ball. It’s gonna be surreal, I don’t think I can put it into words, but I can tell you this, we’re looking forward to that game already.”

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected]