On the 50th Anniversary of the Marshall Plane Crash, the Marshall Thundering Herd football team defeated the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders with a final score of 42-14 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The Herd continues to remain undefeated and improved its record to 7-0 (4-0 Conference USA) while the Blue Raiders dropped to 2-6 (2-4 C-USA).
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said this week was special to honor the 75 lives that were lost in the crash 50 years ago.
“It’s a very emotional week for us but I’m just so proud of our guys,” Holliday said. “What a great day it was for the fans. It was just a great day, very special day. It’s so emotional. There’s so much that goes into this week and the kids are just fired up and ready to play. A lot of stars lined up for this game.”
In the first quarter, the Herd defense punted, fumbled by MTSU which led to junior defensive back Joshua Bowers to recover the ball for the Herd. Sophomore defensive back Micah Abraham was credited with the forced fumble. This action led to redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells throwing a three-yard pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Willie Johnson for a Marshall touchdown. Redshirt sophomore kicker Shane Ciucci completed the extra point to give the Herd an early 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Blue Raiders found their way on the scoreboard after quarterback Asher O’Hara threw a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarrin Pierce for a touchdown. The PAT by kicker Crews Holt was good and tied the score 7-7.
Then, the Herd answered back when Wells threw a one-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Hayden Hagler and the extra point by Ciucci was complete, giving the Herd a 14-7 lead. This was Hagler’s first collegiate touchdown and fourth different tight end to have a touchdown reception.
Wells would then find redshirt sophomore wide receiver Corey Gammage in the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Ciucci made the point after attempt and extended Marshall’s lead 21-7.
In the third quarter, Wells threw a 28-yard pass to Gammage again for another Marshall touchdown and Ciucci completed the PAT, increasing the Herd’s lead 28-7.
Then, O’Hara rushed two yards for a touchdown for the Blue Raiders. Holt completed the PAT and brought the score to 28-14. This scoring drive happened due to a Marshall turnover by redshirt senior wide receiver Artie Henry.
The Herd would answer back with a 26-yard touchdown rush by redshirt junior running back Sheldon Evans. Ciucci’s extra point was completed for the Herd to extend its lead 35-14.
Wells would then find Johnson again for a 23-yard pass for another Marshall touchdown. Ciucci’s PAT was good and increased the Herd’s lead, 42-14.
Neither teams scored during the fourth quarter.
On the Herd’s offensive side, it was led by Wells going 25-for-37 for 336 yards and five touchdowns. Redshirt junior running back Brenden Knox had 16 attempts for 70 yards. Johnson had eight receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
For Marshall’s defensive side, it was led by redshirt senior safety Nazeeh Johnson who had 13 total tackles, nine solo and one forced fumble with a recovery. Redshirt senior linebacker Tavante Beckett followed behind with 11 total tackles, three solo, a half tackle for loss and two quarterback hurry.
Up next for the Herd, the team will remain in Huntington, West Virginia as the University of North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium Saturday, Nov. 21. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. on Stadium.
Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected]