No. 6 Marshall 44, No. 12 E. Kentucky 0
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) _ Troy Brown scored on a 71-yard punt return and caught two touchdown passes and Marshall shut down all-time Division I-AA rushing leader Markus Thomas in a 44-0 first-round playoff rout of Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.
No. 12 Eastern Kentucky (9-3) did not get its initial first down until 4:53 left in the first half. Thomas, who entered the game with 5,556 yards and 54 touchdowns for his career, was held to minus-4 yards rushing on nine carries.
Marshall (9-3), ranked sixth nationally, led 14-0 when Brown took a pass at the Eastern Kentucky 22-yard line and scampered untouched into the end zone to cap a 58-yard, four-play drive with 11:52 left in the first half.
Less than two minutes later, Brown fielded a punt at his own 29, took off up the middle, stepped down the right sideline and went untouched into the end zone for a 24-0 lead.
On Marshall’s first possession of the second half, Payton hit Brown on a short pass and the 5-foot-9, 184-pound senior split end raced down the right sideline for a 44-yard touchdown to make it 41-0.
Brown caught 10 passes for 188 yards. Payton completed 26 of 34 passes for 353 yards. Both played only three quarters.
Tailback Orlando Hatchett and 330-pound offensive tackle Johnny McKee scored on short runs in the first half. David Merrick kicked field goals of 34, 33 and 24 yards.
Ricky Carter caught six passes for 138 yards for Marshall.
Eastern Kentucky managed just 11 first downs and could get no closer than Marshall’s 20-yard line. Quarterback Joey Crenshaw completed 10 of 25 passes for 98 yards.