The Thundering Herd offense was stuffed all day by the Wildcat defense of first-year head coach Ron Prince, who won his third straight game to become only the third new coach in K-State history to start 3-0. Marshall ended the game with only 142 yards of total offense, just 50 on the ground after topping 300 rushing and 500 total the week before against I-AA Hofstra. Ahmad Bradshaw had nine carries for 55 hard-fought yards to lead the Herd, while Bernard Morris finished in negative yards with minus-eight on 10 carries.
The Marshall passing game wasn't much better, as Morris hit 16-of-28 passes but for only 92 yards. Morris threw two interceptions, hit by pass rushers on both of those plays, and was sacked three times by K-State defenders.
Ahmad Bradshaw broke free for yardage in the second half at Kansas State.photos by Pete Aiken for Herd Insider
"We've got to hold onto the ball," said head coach Mark Snyder. "We put ourselves into too many long yardage situations."
The Herd had only 2.3 yards per rush and 3.3 yards per pass on the day. Emanuel Spann had three catches for just 16 yards while Marcus Fitzgerald had two for 30 yards, one of those a 23 yard effort early in the game. Cody Slate had three catches for 20 yards, but had at least two drops in the game. "They stopped some of the things we had success with last week," said Snyder. "They whipped us up front. They gave us the ball in both halves and we had the wind in the second and fourth quarter and we had to feel good about that."/p>
Kansas State took the 25-30 mph wind in both halves, kicking to the Herd in both halves. "The wind worked both ways," said Snyder. "They had a good game plan for the win." The Herd doesn't get any breaks in this back-breaking schedule, opening with No. 5 West Virginia on the road, a home game with a I-AA, then trips to K-State of the Big XII this week and to No. 12 Tennessee of the SEC next week before 10 days off to get ready to meet the defending C-USA East Division champion in UCF in a Wednesday, October 4, nationally televised game.
K-State posted 355 yards of total offense, with quarterback Dylan Meier throwing 19-of-35 for 256 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The Herd offense could not cash in on that turnover or a fumble earlier in the game and turned the ball over three times itself and had a punt blocked that led to the opening score for the Wildcats. "Three turnovers is way too many in a half," said Snyder of the Herd in the first two quarters.
J.J. Johnson put Marshall's only points on the board, recovering a blocked KSU punt and returning it for the easy score.photos by Pete Aiken for Herd Insider
Thomas Clayton, who led K-State in rushing with 76 yards on 18 carries, scored from three-yards out to give K-State a 7-0 lead in the game in the first quarter. Marshall put its only points on the board in the second quarter when Phillip Gamble blocked a Tim Reyer punt. The loose ball was "scooped and scored" by J.J. Johnson to tie the game 7-7 at the 9:16 mark. KSU came back to get the first of three field goals by Jeff Snodgrass just before the half and led 10-7.
Marshall got the ball again to start the second half, but went three-and-out, a familiar senario for the Herd in the third quarter. Marshall only picked up one first down in the third quarter. K-State picked up where they left off in the first half, driving for another field goal to start the third quarter. The Wildcats picked up another field goal later in the period, a 48-yard kick by Snodgrass with the wind that would have been good from 70 yards, and led 16-7 entering the fourth quarter. The 'Cats hit for its final points with 4:15 to play, when Meier found Jermaine Moriera for a 44-yard touchdown to set the final at 23-7. Moreira had four catches for 95 yards, while Jordy Nelson caught five for 74 and tight end Rashaad Norwood had five for 50 yards.
The MU defense played pretty well, considering they were on the field nearly 19 minutes in the second half, led by J.J. Johnson (who scored on the blocked punt return and recovered a fumble) and Josh Johnson, who had seven tackles and a forced fumble in the game. Dennis Thornton had an interception that was a beautiful diving catch. Curtis Keyes led the Herd with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. Matt Couch and Brandon Souder added five tackles each.
Marshall will travel to Knoxville next Saturday for a 4:00 p.m. game with UT. That game may be part of a local television deal between MU and WOWK TV-13 in Huntington, as published reports on Saturday had the CBS affiliate broadcasting the remaining Herd road games as well as the Homecoming contest with Memphis. Camcast Sports South is also tape-delaying the game in the southern U.S. Tennessee is coming off an important Saturday night SEC game with Florida, coming into the MU game, and has beaten a ranked California team and slipped by Air Force.