"I thought for a half, we didn't play with much emotion," Marshall coach Bob Pruett summed up. "I was really pleased with our players, the way they came back and responded in the second half."
Pruett was speaking of the yawner that was the first half. Marshall's Michael 'Kool-Aid' Owens' interception on the one-yard line of a Derrick Vickers pass kept the Chippewas out of the end zone in the second quarter, and proceeded to give a spark to the Marshall offense. Marshall took a slim 14-7 lead into the lockerroom at the half, the points coming courtesy of a 6-yard run by Franklin Wallace at 6:32 of the second quarter, and Denero Marriott's 16-yard TD catch with 3:17 left in the second, as well. Other than that, the first half fireworks were few and far between for the Herd. Marshall's defense kept the Chippewas out of the end zone on all but one drive in the first half. Still, Central Michigan racked up 245 yards of total offense in the first half, while the Herd had 'only' 288.
Still, it was the second-half fireworks from quarterback Byron Leftwich and his stable of receivers that did in the Chippewas. Franklin Wallace rambled into the endzone completely untouched, running around left end, to start the show. Wallace's 12-yard TD run with 6:49 in the third put Marshall up 21-7.
Michael 'Kool-Aid' Owens had this interception of CMU's Derrick Vickers in the second quarter.
Just two minutes and one second later, at 4:48, Byron Leftwich put up a long pass to Darius Watts, and the sophomore took the ball, eluded two CMU defenders, fell down to the point of using his hand to keep from going down. Watts righted himself and sprinted into the endzone, 47 yards dowfield. Herd 28, CMU 7.
On the very next possession, Josh Davis caught yet another Leftwich pass in the left flat, and then turned-and-burned the CMU secondary for 86 yards and the touchdown to put Marshall up by a commanding 35-7.
With 471 yards passing under his belt (just missing the Marshall school record of 493 yards by Michael Payton in 1991 versus VMI), Leftwich left the game with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Leftwich had led the Herd offense inside the CMU 10-yard line, and backup Stan Hill came in. Hill handed off three times, and the third one was the charm. Brandon Carey slashed and dashed his way across the goal line on the one-yard run, putting Marshall up 42-7 with 9:43 left.
CMU took the ball 84 yards on the next possession, and Terrence Jackson ran it in from two yards out to bring the Chips back to 42-14.
In a shoddy show of sportsmanship, Central Michigan did score on the very last play of the game, a 31-yard pass to Dante McKnight, to seal the final score at 42-21.
Leftwich finished the night with the aforementioned 471 yards passing, his second game in a row over 400 yards. Josh Davis had 10 catches for 175 yards and one TD; Darius Watts hauled in 9 for 183 yards and a touchdown. In the running department, Franklin Wallace ran for 81 yards on 14 carries, 2 TDs, while Marcus Hairston came in late and racked up 63 yards on only 7 carries, a good showing for the up-and-coming running back. Brandon Carey finished with only 9 yards on 6 carries, but did have the third quarter score.
The Marshall defense put on a good show, particularly in the first half. Max Yates led the way with 9 tackles, one for loss; Michael 'Kool-Aid' Owens had 7 tackles and one interception of CMU's Derrick Vickers in the second quarter. The Marshall defense sacked Vickers three times on the night, once each by Yates, Kelvin Smith, and Maurice McKinney.
Marshall now bumps up to 5-1 on the season, and prepares to host MAC east foe Akron next weekend at Marshall Stadium in Huntington. Game time is 7pm.
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