Marshall Makes Plays In Win At UAB

Marshall coach Mark Snyder has preached "Make A Play" from his football "bible" all season. But this week, he was emphasizing someone, anyone stepping up and helping MU get its first Conference USA win of 2006. At the end of the UAB game, Snyder was pleased to see his team took his lessons to heart as MU made plays in the Herd's 31-24 win over UAB in Birmingham, Alabama. MU is 4-1 in game in Bama.

"We finally finished," said Snyder of his team which won at Birmingham's historic Legion Field in Marshall's first trip to UAB. MU had taken leads into the fourth quarter of the first two C-USA games of the year before losing to UCF and at SMU. "All three phases came together. We made plays and all the credit goes to the kids." At the top of the list of playmakers had to be junior running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who had the third-best rushing day in the history of the MU program.

Rushing for a career-best 242 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns, Bradshaw moved into ninth place on the career rushing list for Marshall. He passes Orlando Hatchett (1989-92, 2,143 yards) and Larry Fourquean (1980-83, 2,232) and now has 2,327 yards. He trails No. 8 Eric Thomas (1993-96, 2,357) by just 30 yards. Bradshaw's 242 yards were only topped by Fourquean (245 vs. Appalachian State, Nov. 7, 1981) and Ron Darby (262 vs. Western Carolina, Nov. 12, 1988) and his 200-plus rushing day was the first for the Herd since MU's all-time leading rusher Chris Parker (1992-95, 5,924) ran for 202 yards against East Tennessee State on Nov. 6, 1993.

"How about those interceptions?" said Snyder on the post-game show on the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network. Interceptions by Curtis Keyes and James Johnson doubled Marshall's takeaways through the air with two first half picks. Keyes stopped UAB's first drive, set up by a Bernard Morris interception by Will Evans. Evans ran the ball down to the one-yard line, but UAB had a personal foul and then illegal procedure to back up to the 21-yard line. Keyes picked off UAB quarterback Chris Williams in the end zone and Marshall drove 80 yards in nine plays from the MU 20-yard line for its first touchdown, a 26-yard run by Bradshaw. Johnson grabbed his first career interception to stall a Blazers drive late in the first half at the Marshall 28-yard line and let the Herd go to the locker room with a 28-14 lead, the most points scored in the first half by a Snyder team.

"How about those receivers we had and the catches they made?" said Snyder of his receiving corps. Matt Morris scored on a wide open 31-yard post route for touchdown from B. Morris (5-of-7 for 100 yards passing and the score) to give MU a 21-6 lead to start the second quarter. That was the long scoring pass of the season and the second-longest pass completion of the year. He had two catches for 59 yards. Emanuel Spann also had two catches for 46 yards and Marcus Fitzgerald had one for 11 yards, but all three came in a key drive.

B. Morris had gone to the sidelines with a undisclosed foot injury (possibly another case of turf toe, which troubled Morris last season), not returning to the game. Senior quarterback Jimmy Skinner, who had not played since game two versus I-AA Hofstra, jumped in with just about a minute left in the third quarter and the score narrowed to 28-21.

Entering on third-and-nine, Skinner found Fitzgerald, who caught the ball just short of the first down but fought and stretched the ball ahead to pick up a key first down to push the Herd drive into the fourth quarter. Four plays later, Spann made a catch with two UAB players battling him for the ball and got both feet in bounds to pick up 23 yards. On third-and-seven at the Blazer 38-yard line, Skinner (4-of-5 for 56 yards) and Spann hooked up again for 23 more yards to the UAB 15-yard line. Three plays later, Anthony Binswanger would nail a 41-yard field goal to give the Herd a 31-21 lead.

Chubb Small was also huge for the Herd offense. He had two catches for 25 yards. Small rushed six times for 59 yards, averaging 9.8 yards per carry (Bradshaw averaged 9.7), including a 49-yard touchdown for the Herd's second score late in the first quarter. Small also had three kickoff returns for 82 yards, an average of 27 per return and a long of 34 yards. Small was topped by Bradshaw breaking off a 67 yard touchdown late in the second quarter. But the offensive efforts would have gone for naught if the Herd defensive line had not stepped up big late in the game, and had to do it with starting tackle Juan Underwood on the sidelines with a first half injury.

UAB cut the score to 31-24 with 6:24 to play on a Swayze Waters career-best 42-yard field goal. On MU's next series, Skinner threw an interception to Will Dunbar and UAB was at the Herd's 41-yard line with 4:10 to play. Williams threw an incompletion, then a short four yard gain to Marculus Elliott (who rushed for 129 yards and a 45-yard touchdown) who was stacked up by Albert McClellan and C.J. Spillman. Spillman led MU for the second week in tackles with nine total, seven solo, and McClellan totaled seven tackles for second most on the day. On third-and-six, McClellan got to Williams and sacked and stripped the QB of the ball, although Williams recovered for a seven yard loss. After UAB two time outs, Williams was sacked by Shavar Greer all the way back to the 44-yard line. Two Bradshaw runs for offensive first downs put the win away for the Herd. McClellan led MU with three tackles for loss, one sack and one pass broken up, while Greer had two tackles for loss, both coming on sacks for minus-24 yards, and forced a fumble.

Next up for the Herd is the 105th Homecoming game in Marshall history, going back to Nov. 28, 1895. The Herd will host the Memphis Tigers, who lost to defending C-USA champion Tulsa on Saturday by 35-14. Memphis is the only team in C-USA without a win in league play at 0-3, 1-6 in all games. The Herd is 53-43-8 all-time at Homecoming, and has won the last 13 in a row.

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