Marshall downs ODU, 42-20
NORFOLK, Va. -- All season long, Marshall University’s defense had carried the Thundering Herd football team to a winning record.
On Saturday afternoon, it was the turn of the Thundering Herd offense to put a game away.
One play after quarterback Alex Thomson converted a key third down pass, running back Tyler King broke a pair of tackles and sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown to lead Marshall to a 42-20 win over Old Dominion at Foreman Field.
King’s touchdown capped a day when the Herd rushed for 319 yards and five touchdowns. It was the first time since Oct. 17, 2015, that Marshall rushed for more than 300 yards.
For the second consecutive game, King set a career-high in rushing yards, finishing with 195 and two touchdowns. Of King’s 195 yards, 159 came in the fourth quarter.
It was part of a balanced Marshall attack that finished with 501 yards of total offense. Thomson was 18 of 29 passing for one touchdown and one interception, but only threw seven passes in the second half.
Anthony Anderson rushed for 91 yards and three touchdowns. Anderson’s third score -- a 4-yard run -- came three plays after King’s 29-yard run set up the Herd with great field position in a one-score game.
It was part of a sequence when all three phases had a big play.
After a punt by Robert Lefevre rolled dead at the Old Dominion 5-yard line, Marshall’s defense forced a three-and-out, allowing the offense to take over at the ODU 43, which set up Anderson’s score.
Old Dominion did not relent, however, using an il-advised unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Marshall’s Marquis Couch following an incompletion to move deep into Marshall territory. Two plays later, Kesean Strong caught a 16-yard scoring pass from Blake LaRussa over the middle that cut it to a one-score game again before King’s pair of game-breaking runs late.
Marshall led 21-3 following an Anderson scoring run in the third quarter, but Old Dominion (1-6, 0-4 Conference USA) answered with 10 straight points on a 1-yard scoring toss from LaRussa to Travis Fulgham and a 41-yard field goal by Nick Rice to make it a one-possession game early in the fourth quarter.
Marshall (4-2, 2-1) took a 14-3 lead into the locker room at halftime after ODU got on the board with a 30-yard field goal by Rice with just 18 seconds left. The scoring drive came after ODU got a fourth-down stop on the Herd and drove 13 plays to the Herd 12 before having the drive stall.
Aside from that drive, Marshall’s defense had done a good job of limiting Old Dominion’s outside receivers, especially Jonathan Duhart, who came into the game with five consecutive games with 100 yards receiving.
Duhart caught the first three passes of the game, but fumbled his third reception after a Frankie Hernandez strip. Following that play, Duhart did not have another first-half reception and finished with just five catches for 31 yards.
Marshall jumped out to a 14-0 lead with a pair of 10-play drives that ended in touchdowns as Thomson got into a nice rhythm.
The second scoring drive showed Thomson’s strengths as he hit Tyre Brady and Artie Henry on a pair of slants over the middle for first downs before connecting with Brady on a 3-yard fade route to give the Herd the two-score cushion. The throw came off of play-action with Marshall in a full-house formation near the goal line. ODU bit on the action, thanks to the Herd establishing its rushing game early.
Anderson was the catalyst for the rushing attack early, rushing for 50 yards in the first half, including a 22-yard scoring run up the middle that opened the scoring for the Herd.
Anderson’s score came after Thomson connected with Willie Johnson for a 23-yard gain on a play-action pass over the middle, which was well-blocked by the Marshall offensive line to allow time for the route to develop.
LaRussa finished 31 of 54 for 296 passing yards and two touchdowns for Old Dominion in the loss.