Herd offense explodes early for road win over UNT, 49-21

After a three-and-out to start the game, the Marshall football offense scored touchdowns on its next six possessions to earn a 49-21 road win over North Texas on Friday night.The game was very lopsided after one quarter of play.

Marshall led 14-0 and outgained North Texas 161-8. Marshall had more first downs (11) than UNT had yards. Both MU touchdowns, in the first quarter, came on the ground from quarterback Grant Wells and running back Rasheen Ali.

“We came out with confidence,” Wells said. “We came out like we knew how to play, and it showed.”

That confidence carried over into the second quarter. The Thundering Herd scored 28 more points.

Wells was responsible for the first three touchdowns of the second quarter: one rushing touchdown and two passing, one to wide receiver Jayden Harrison and another to tight end Xavier Gaines. Ali scored the other Marshall touchdown in the second on a one-yard run that gave the Herd a commanding 42-7 lead at halftime.

“The first half we played together in all three phases,” Marshall first-year head coach Charles Huff said. “We played together as a team.”

At halftime, Marshall had 348-132 advantage in total yards. The second quarter featured no incompletions, turnovers or penalties.

“The issues that we’ve had in the season thus far have all been discipline issues,” Huff said. “That’s not just hitting someone after the whistle. That’s blocking the right guy, being in the right gap, wrapping up on tackles, not false starting, making sure we’re on the line and not having procedural penalties. All that is discipline.”

Neither team scored in the third quarter and the Mean Green outscored the Thundering Herd 14-7 in the fourth quarter, to give the Herd the 28-point victory. Wells was phenomenal in the win, making history with his arm and legs. The reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year completed 18 consecutive passes, breaking the single game record held by Eric Kresser who completed 14 in a row over the span of two games back in 1996. Wells threw for 323 and two touchdowns and ran for three scores as well. The last Marshall quarterback to score three rushing touchdowns was Michael Payton in 1990.

“Grant took a step tonight,” Huff said. “When he’s comfortable, we have a chance to be really good.” Ali finished with 109 rushing yards and another 50 receiving and scored twice on the ground. Marshall finished the game with 477 total yards of offense. The Herd defense continues to progress week to week. North Texas was just five of 16 on third downs and zero for five on fourth downs. Sophomore linebacker Eli Neal had a sack and an interception. Senior safety Cory McCoy had an interception for the second consecutive week.

Marshall football improves to 4-3 and 2-1 in Conference USA. The Herd is off this week and will be back in action Oct. 30, when it serves as host to FIU.

Andrew Rogers, [email protected]