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Marshall gets seventh straight win

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Marshall University’s football team defeated the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Saturday 34-10 to earn its seventh consecutive victory.

Diverging from a season-long trend, the Herd’s offense was the team’s superior unit as it totaled 630 yards – the most in any game this season.

True freshman quarterback Chase Litton passed for a career-high 486 yards, a number which places him third in the program’s history for most passing yards in a single game.

Litton, who said he needed to be better following his performance in the team’s win against the University of North Texas Oct. 24, also posted career highs in completions and attempts with 33 and 48, respectively, along with two touchdown passes.

“We’re not surprised because he’s held up to those expectations,” senior receiver Deandre Reaves said. “He’s a young guy, but he has high standards for himself. It’s not like we are going to be all ‘hoo-hoo’ and rowdy about it because he’s held to those expectations, and he lived up to them Saturday.”

Sophomore tight end Ryan Yuracheck said Litton’s and the offense’s overall success was due to the team’s game plan to speed up the offensive tempo in an attempt to combat Charlotte’s different defensive looks and not give the 49ers’ defense time to communicate calls and get aligned properly.

“With a defense like Charlotte that stems around as much as they had and blitzed as much as they did, going tempo that not only negates them being able to stem around and move like that,” Yuracheck said. “But it doesn’t allow them to get their calls in as fast as they want to.”

Litton’s main target throughout the game was senior wide receiver Davonte Allen, who nearly doubled his yardage total through the first eight games of the season, catching 12 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown.

“(Allen) was just hot,” Reaves said. “Chase liked the matchups with him one-on-one and he beat his guy and kept getting open.”

Litton said the increased offensive pace was beneficial to Allen as well as it forced Charlotte to deploy coverages that favored the Herd offense.

“When we go fast, a lot of teams like to try to play fast with us,” Litton said. “There will be some holes in the defense. When we play tempo, it kind of keeps teams in coverages that we like.”

However, Allen was not the only member of the Marshall receiving corps who inflated their season statistics. Redshirt sophomore wideout Deon-Tay McManus posted a season-high six receptions for 46 yards, while Reaves caught five balls for 67 yards.

The tight ends also chipped in through the air with Yuracheck and Emanuel Byrd combining for 104 yards and a touchdown on six catches.

Although Litton and his receivers put up impressive stat totals, the play of the team’s offensive line also drew praise.

“All the credit goes to the offensive lineman because they held (Charlotte’s defensive line) up pretty well and gave Chase the time to go through his reads,” Reaves said. “And from there, that’s the easy part, just finding the open guy.”

The solid offensive performance across multiple positional units allowed the Herd to jump out to a 28-0 advantage before the midway point of the second quarter.

After Charlotte opened the game with a three-and-out, Marshall drove 59 yards on a drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown run from senior running back Remi Watson.

On the Herd’s ensuing possession, following another 49ers’ punt, Litton hit Allen down the sideline on a 66-yard touchdown pass, which appeared to be the result of a busted coverage by the Charlotte defense. Nevertheless, Reaves said the big play got Allen going.

“He got that first deep ball, and from then on, it was just a different Davonte Allen,” Reaves said.

After the two teams exchanged punts, the Herd drove 97 yards in nine plays, culminating in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Litton to Yuracheck.

On the following possession the Herd offense continued to move the football as running back Keion Davis scored on a 6-yard run to end a nine-play, 84-yard drive.

The teams would trade field goals to close out the first half with the Herd leading 31-3 heading into the break, having essentially sealed the game after two quarters.

Marshall will be on the road for the second consecutive week as it takes on Middle Tennessee State University Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Bradley Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected]

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