Report Card: Marshall-49, Kent St.-33

In front of the largest crowd to ever attend a Marshall Football game in Huntington, The Herd did not let down a Homecoming record crowd of 33,537 as they rumbled over Kent State 49-33. Marshall improved to 3-3, 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference. Stan Hill, in his first start since the Tennessee game back on September 6, missed on only five passes and threw for 392 yards in just over three quarters of work. Darius Watts caught 8-123 and a 50-yard score and Josh Davis had 8-144 and three tds.

Here are the grades on MU-KSU/2:

Quarterback A Hill was 90 percent on his knee and he hit 84 percent of his passes, on a 27-of-32 effort for 392 yards and five touchdowns. He checked into the right play time after time in the game and only had two mistakes when he forced the ball into coverage, ala his hero Brett Farve. Graham Gochneaur saw action but only to run out clock handing off. And hey, Joshua Cribbs was pretty awesome on the Kent State side, too!

Running Backs A Earl Charles was challenged by coaches with Butchie Wallace on sidelines and, boy, did he deliver. 27 carries for 173 net yards, two touchdowns, a long run of 45 yards and an amazing six and one-half yards per carry. He did well in blitz pickup too. Tank Tunstalle got his first significant playing time, rushing for 26 yards of tough yards. Hill chipped in a five yards scramble and Watts rushed twice for 10 yards.

Offensive Line A In a word, domination. Allow Herd to rush for 5.2 yard per carry average on 41 carries for 212 yards. Allow no sacks against blitz-happy Flashes on 32 attempts. Nate McPeek looked best since early on after two weeks rest. Jesse Saito, Seth Cook, other backups effective when called upon. Toby Bullock's health a worry, however.

Receivers A Watts and Davis showed why they may be the most dynamic duo at wide out in college football-combine for 16 catches, 267 yards and four scores. Jason Schroeder finally showed the flash the coaches have always thought was there with three for 80 and a first-ever MU touchdown catch of 50 yards. Hiram Moore catches his first pass as member of Herd. Jason Rader has three for 22 yards and Jeff Mullins addes one for four, while Earl Charles caught two for nine.

Defensive Line A Brought pressure on Joshua Cribbs all day and sacked him five times. Limited Kent to 88 yards of net rushing. Jamus Martin has four solo tackles, two tackles-for-loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and one pass broken up. Jonathan Goddard good for 3.5 tackles, 1.5 tackle-for-loss, a forced fumble, a sack and a pass broken up. Reggie Hayes, Toriano Brown, Jamaal Whyce and Roger Garrett effective in middle.

Linebackers A Kevin Atkins will never forget Cribbs getting away on mid-air stick, but made up for it with five solos, three assists and two passes broken up. Right behind him was Dionte' Wilson, who had five solos, three assists and also two passes broken up. The Herd broke up 11 passes total. Donte' Newsome added three tackles, one assist and also broke up a pass. Charlie Tynes had two solos, two assists, a tackle-for-loss and one sack.

Defensive Backs C+ First, the good. Curtis Keyes was astounding at safety, from making the first tackle of the game to his totals: team leading six solos, four assists, .5 tackle-for-loss and two passes broken up. Willie Smith had three solo tackles and one interception in game and an interception return of 90 yards on the two-point attempt by Kent State, longest non-scoring interception return in MU history. He also broke up two passes. Now, the bad. The secondary is burned for touchdown passes of 29 yards (the trick play, backup QB Antwan Smith to Cribbs), 18 yards and 97 yards, although the backups were in the game at this point in the game. Nothing that cannot be fixed, however, and the long TD came because the DB slipped. Remember, Cribbs has driven Kent State to 75 points in three games against the Herd.

Special Teams C Steady, but not above average. Ben Lewis punting average of 30.3 on three punts misleading because two were downed inside the 20-yard line. 7-of-7 on extra-points. Return games still causing some head scratching. Chris Royal and Tremel Guillory both have fumbles on punt returns. Kickoff returns only average just over 10 yards per return. Coverage teams allow Kent State foe return three kickoffs for 88 yards. These stats will beat Herd in close game.

Crowd A+ Best ever crowd at a Marshall game or Homecoming, with 33,537 making it to stadium Saturday. Very good energy, especially in first half. Only 4,500 more and we'll have a sellout for the 16th time at MU Stadium (but it still will be first since renovation pushed capacity to 38,019 in 2000). TV debate will rage on, but for non-title clashes or "big" games, the lack of local TV probably helps some.

Overall AGreat comeback from off week, loss at Troy State. Some in MAC that might have thought Herd was beatable may be refiguring that equation. If team plays like this, with slight tweaks in secondary and special teams, another title, and bowl, can be had by Herd. Again!

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