"We did a great job of running the ball, but the defense saved my ass today," a candid Byron Leftwich said after the game.
UCF drew first blood in the game, courtesy of a 65-yard Tavaris Capers touchdown catch with 6:25 left in the first quarter. Marshall answered with a Curtis Head 41 yard field goal.
Marshall used a 17 point second quarter to pull away from the Golden Knights. Josh Davis's 18 yard TD catch and Brandon Carey's 1-yard TD run helped the Herd pull away to a 20-14 halftime lead. Carey, filling in for an injured Franklin Wallace (concussion), ran for 142 yards on 28 carries to enable the Herd offense to make up for numerous dropped passes.
UCF QB Ryan Schneider gets blitzed by the Marshall defense in the second half.
"Butchie went out and I just had to step in and play hard for him and the corps," Carey commented.
Josh Davis's 36-yard TD catch (his second of the day) at the 8:06 mark of the third quarter put Marshall up 26-14. UCF answered with a Alex Haynes 19-yard TD pass with 13:22 remaining in the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, Marshall's defense held strong on UCF's final two possessions. Facing first and ten at the Marshall 37 yard line, MU linebacker J.T. Rembert picked off UCF quarterback Ryan Schneider's pass with 3:03 remaining.
The Golden Knights returned the favor on Marshall's ensuing possession, when Tavaris Capers picked off Leftwich's throw just 53 seconds later. In the final defensive stand of the game, Marshall's Terence Tarpley made a spectacular interception of another errant Schneider pass with 1:47 remaining, to seal the win. Leftwich took a knee for the last two plays to run the clock out and seal the Marshall win, 26-21.
"We kind of got our swagger back tonight," summed up MU's Byron Leftwich. "Me personally, I just can't throw interceptions. I think this might be the worst game I've ever played, to be honest with you. But, I won. That's the thing I can tell everybody. I won."
Marshall amassed a total of 511 yards of offense, while holding UCF to 398 total yards. Most of Marshall's offense came via Leftwich's air attack, completing 28-of-49 passes for two TDs and two interceptions by the UCF defense. Three Marshall receivers (Davis, Darius Watts, and Denero Marriott) caught 6 passes each, with Davis's 87 yards and two scores leading the way.
Brandon Carey chalked up a career-high 144 yards on 28 attempts, scoring one TD.
The Herd (2-1 overall, 1-0 MAC) now has on open week before traveling to Kent State on October 5 for a 2pm matchup. UCF (0-3 overall, 0-1 MAC) hosts Liberty on September 28 at 6pm.