Herd motivated as it moves forward
HUNTINGTON — Saturday’s wild 20-17 football win at Western Kentucky University produced many memories for Marshall University fans — some good, some bad.
As Marshall players move forward in a short week toward Middle Tennessee, another Conference USA contest at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium, they only want one memory to resonate from Saturday. When the chips were down, the Thundering Herd found a way to get it done.
“That was a nail-biter and one that we really had to put our fingers in the dirt, grab for more and really grind one out,” Marshall offensive lineman Alex Locklear said. “It really can define our season.When everything is not going our way, we’re going to be able to punch adversity right in the mouth and get after it.”
Western Kentucky (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) had momentum late after scoring following a Marshall (3-1, 1-0) turnover and the Hilltoppers backed the Herd up on its own goal line with just 4:23 left with a punt down to the 2-yard line by Alex Rinella.
To that point, Marshall had been 2 of 13 on third-down conversions. However, facing third-and-5 from its own 7, Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green found Obi Obialo for a 20-yard gain to give the Herd life. The next play was a 35-yard completion to tight end Armani Levias that put the Herd in Western Kentucky territory with just more than two minutes left.
After a pair of short plays, Marshall again found itself facing a third down with the game on the line.
Green stood in and absorbed a hit while connecting with Tyre Brady, who made a catch in front of a diving defender, then outraced the Western Kentucky defense to the end zone to give Marshall the lead.
“That drive just says a lot about our team,” Brady said. “You know, we made a lot of mistakes on offense and defense, but you know, for us to still go out there and put together a 98 (yard) drive for the game-winner against our rival in their stadium? I mean, it just shows the type of team we are.”
The adversity was not done for Marshall even after that drive.
Marshall’s defense gave up a 60-yard completion that put Western Kentucky in position to tie or have a chance to win, but the Herd defensive front dug deep and senior tackle Ryan Bee forced a turnover that senior end Juwon Young recovered to solidify the win.
Marshall did not have its best performance in the game, but found a way, which head coach Doc Holliday said is crucial when chasing a championship.
“We’ve got to build on that and get better again this week,” Holliday said.
The mindset is not to go 8-0 in conference play. Instead, it is to go 1-0 each week and see where the chips fall at the end.
Last week, the Herd went 1-0, albeit in less-than-stellar fashion.
On Friday night, Marshall again wants to go 1-0 in its battle with the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee (2-2, 1-0) at Marshall (3-1, 1-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Joan C. Edwards Stadium
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, WMUL 88.1-FM