Marshall blows past Norfolk State 45-7

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Marshall University’s football team rebounded after its loss last week and beat Norfolk State University Saturday 45-7 in front of a crowd of 24,114 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Freshman quarterback Chase Litton, who made his first career start for the Herd, completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I thought our football team went out there today and played the way we should have played,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “I had a little concern going out with a true freshman at quarterback, but I thought he took what the defense gave us, made the throws, got the ball where it was supposed to go and played pretty well for a young freshman.”

On the first drive of the game, the Spartans executed a seven-play, 75-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead with 11:58 remaining in the first quarter.

Despite the quick start, it would be Norfolk State’s only score of the game.

The Herd responded on the next possession with a 12-play, 52-yard drive that led to a Nick Smith field goal to cut the Spartans’ lead to 7-3 with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter.

Marshall closed out the quarter with Litton connecting with wide receiver Deandre Reaves for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Herd a 10-7 lead with just four seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The touchdown was not only Litton’s first collegiate score, it was also Reaves’ first career receiving touchdown.

“It felt great to get in there and help the team out,” Reaves said. “Our quarterbacks do a heck of a job putting the ball in the right place for us, and it’s our job as receivers to go get the ball.”

Litton and Reaves connected again in the second quarter for a touchdown, this time from 36 yards out, to extend Marshall’s lead to 17-7 with 11:14 remaining in the second quarter.

“Actually, when I threw it, you could kind of see my body language, I thought I overthrew him,” Litton said. “He made a tremendous grab and made me look good on that play.”

Running back Devon Johnson capped off a 13-play, 83-yard drive when he found the end zone from 1 yard out to extend the Herd’s lead to 24-7 with 4:48 remaining in the second quarter.

That score held and Marshall took a 24-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Mid-way through the third quarter, Litton connected with wide receiver Davonte Allen for an 11-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 31-7 with 8:28 remaining in the third quarter.

As the third quarter came to a close, freshman running back Keion Davis scored his first touchdown as a member of the Herd from 1 yard out to put Marshall in front 38-7 with just 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Litton tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the game with 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter when he connected with wide receiver Justin Hunt from 25 yards out to cap off the scoring for the Herd.

That score held and Marshall secured the 45-7 win over the Spartans.

The Herd’s defense limited Norfolk State’s offense to just seven points and 191 total yards.

Johnson ran for 122 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown to lead the way on the ground for the Herd.

Reaves led all Marshall receivers with four catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

The Herd’s offense totaled 495 yards with 279 of them through the air and 216 on the ground.

Holliday said quarterback Michael Birdsong was supposed to start the game and Litton would check in by the third offensive series, but an injury forced Litton to start.

“We got out there on Tuesday and he (Birdsong) couldn’t throw the ball,” he said. “He’s got a shoulder issue. We met with the doctors, and we decided the only way he’s going to get better is to not throw the ball at all Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and not play. The plan was to start Birdsong.”

Holliday said that he and his staff will talk and discuss the quarterback situation as the season progresses.

The Herd returns to action Saturday, Sept. 26 at Kent State.

Trace Johnson can be contacted at [email protected]






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