Marshall Opens With 36-24 Win Over William & Mary

Marshall linebacker Matt Couch effectively put the nail in William and Mary's coffin. Couch returned a third quarter fumble by W&M quarterback Mike Potts 70 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, and receiver Hiram Moore added another TD in the fourth quarter to seal the season-opener win over The Tribe, 36-24, in front of 25,012 at Edwards Stadium...

The season-opening win answered many questions about this year's Marshall team, and left a few others hanging in the air for next weekend's matchup with Kansas State in Huntington. Coach Mark Snyder got his first win, and also saw room for improvement in the coming week.

"It looked about like I thought it might," said Snyder in the post-game media conference. "We were playing well early. The third quarter came, and obviously we've got some things we've got to get corrected, defensively."

Ahmad Bradshaw lept over the William and Mary defensive line during the second quarter. Bradshaw scored two TDs in the 36-24 win.

The first quarter was a kick-fest, with both Marshall's Ian O'Connor and W&M's Greg Kuehn booting field goals. Marshall back Ahmad Bradshaw began a stellar night with a five-yard TD run with 5:38 left to give Marshall the lead at 10-3.

Bradshaw would finish the night with two touchdowns, 72 yards on the ground and 52 receiving.

"He saved us," Marshall coach Mark Snyder said of Bradshaw's performance.

"They talk about getting me in the open field," said Bradshaw, "and that's what we were able to do."

W&M's Matt Otey tied the game at 10-10 by recovering a controversial fumble in the end zone. Bradshaw would add his second score of the night on a screen pass from Morris, turning the short pass into a 52-yard highlight reel.

Marshall looked to have the game locked up when receiver Shawn Lauzon scored on a 25-yard pass from Morris with 1:32 left in the first half, giving The Herd a solid 23-10 lead at the half.

W&M's Elijah Brooks had other plans. The Tribe running back all but ruled the entire third quarter (he would finish with 28 rushes for 149 yards). Brooks scored on a 19-yard pass from QB Mike Potts, and Tony Viola did the same trick from 18 yards out later in the quarter to put W&M in the lead at 24-23.

"It can't happen when you're in a tight game like that," Marshall coach Mark Snyder said afterward of the defensive letdown in the third quarter. "Too many errors."

Linebacker Matt Couch returned this fumble recovery 70 yards for a touchdown that gave Marshall the go-ahead score against William and Mary.

Enter Matt Couch.

"We weren't making plays when we should have been making plays," Couch said of the third quarter.

However, the Marshall linebacker was in the right place at the right time with 1:08 left in the third quarter. Defensive back Chris Royal forced a fumble by W&M QB Mike Potts, and Couch scooped up the fumble and showed impressive speed, running untouched 70 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

"All I did was scoop and score," Couch commented. "This is the first touchdown of my college career, and I know I'll never forget it."

"Big play when we needed a big play," coach Mark Snyder added of Couch's touchdown.

Receiver Hiram Moore sealed the win with a bullet-pass from Morris in the back of the end zone with 9:46 left in the game. Despite Jimmy Skinner getting the starting nod against The Tribe, Bernie Morris stole the show with a 15-of-23 night passing, good for 215 yards and three TDs. Skinner went 11-of-17 and 98 yards in comparison.

"That's like a coming-out party for me," Morris said. "It's a good feeling to get a win. We have a receiving corps that can get the job done this year."

Hiram Moore's 12-yard TD pass from QB Bernie Morris sealed the season-opener win over William and Mary on Thursday night.

Marshall put up 416 yards total offense on the night (313 in the air and 103 rushing), while giving up 359 to The Tribe (204 passing and 155 on the ground). Wilbur Hargrove led the receiving corps for Marshall with 7 catches, good for 125 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw proved he is the offensive threat to deal with for MU in 2005, putting up a total 145 yards (72 ground, 73 in the air) and scoring two TDs.

All in all, Marshall coach Mark Snyder was happy to get his first win as a college coach.

"I'm excited to get the win," Snyder quipped, "I just wish it was in a better fashion."

Marshall now stands at 1-0 on the season, and now begins preparations for what is arguably the biggest home game in recent history when Kansas State comes to Huntington on Saturday, September 10. Game time is an early 10:30am, and a sellout crowd is anticipated at Edwards Stadium.

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