Marshall Blown Out By UCF, 47-13

Marshall was outed on Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida - out-coached, out-played and hustled out of town with a 47-13 loss in UCF's first homecoming on campus in the history of its program. Marshall falls to 1-8, 1-4 in Conference USA play while the Knights keep pace with East Carolina, Marshall's next opponent in Huntington, one-half game behind the Pirates.

Marshall had an awful outing as the quarterbacks were sacked seven times in the game, and all by the front four of the Central Florida defense. The Herd quarterbacks combined for three interceptions, including one by Brian Anderson that was returned for a late touchdown to set the final score. MU did not score in the first quarter again and scored just one touchdown in the game, with Chubb Small getting into the end zone on a pretty 45-yard run, but it was not until UCF had taken a 33-6 lead. Marshall was out-gained in the game, 472 to 337 in total offense, and out-rushed, 269 to 88, although another 38 yards on the ground was lost in the seven sacks by the Knights.

The blow out came as Bernard Morris rushed for 40 yards, making him the third quarterback in Marshall history to top 900 yards rushing. Danny Wright rushed for 942 yards between 1976-79, while Herman "Bud" Nelson rushed for 928 from 1975-78. Morris now has 910 yards in his career on the ground. He also threw for 239 yards in the game, finding tight end Cody Slate nine times for 91 yards, but was intercepted twice. Anderson finished 0-for-2 with the pick for a score by UCF's Darin Baldwin, while Wesley Beardain played in his first-ever varsity game late in the contest and hit one of two for 10 yards.

On defense, C.J. Spillman had 13 tackles, 10 of those solos, which speaks to the problem this season for the Herd's defense. Spillman is among the leaders in the league in tackles at the safety and tonight made many of those stops down field again, while Maurice Kitchens also played well in his second start of the season at middle linebacker. UCF tailback Kevin Smith had 188 yard rushing and two touchdowns, one from 87 yards, while Knights' quarterback Kyle Israel added 45 rushing yards to his 203 passing yards. He threw two touchdowns, both to Brian Watters, who had six catches for 88 yards. Watters entered the game with four catches all season for just 38 yards, but time and time again the Knights hit for third and long either just in front of or just behind the Herd's secondary.

"They won the line of scrimmage," said Mark Snyder after the game, his team's 17th loss on the road in three seasons. "I said at halftime we would have to fix that. I challenged the team after the game. It will be a very physical week of practice to get ready for a physical East Carolina team at home this week. We backed off some last week, but we have to go back and fix it." Snyder also said it was the first game he could remember with no penalties on one team, UCF, while the other team, MU, had eight penalties for minus-75 yards.

Marshall had a chance to get back in the game in the third quarter, when Morris drove MU down the field starting at the 10:39 mark by running for 17 yards. Despite two holding penalties in the drive, Morris found Shawn Lauzon for two big gains totalling 29 yards to move the ball over mid-field, then hit Darius Passmore for 32 yards on two catches. At the 14-yard line, though, a miss to Slate was followed by a sack. Passmore, who caught three passes for 62 yards, then dropped a fourth down pass in the end zone that would have cut the score to 27-10.

Back came MU again after a Ryland Wilson interception got the ball back following a Morris interception. That would lead to Anthony Binswanger's second field goal and the score was 27-6. But just 1:11 into the fourth quarter, Israel hit Watters for his second touchdown and UCF led 33-6. Small would score four plays later, the Herd's only touchdown, when he took a handoff on third-and-one and went 45 yards to cut the score to 33-13.

But it was all Knights on this day, as a second Morris interception led to Paul Smith, the back-up tail back, scoring with 4:00 to play and the Knights were up 40-13. On the next series, Anderson's interception was returned from out at the 37-yard line to set the final score. One bright spot for the Herd was the punting of both Binswanger and Marty Biagi. Each pinned UCF at its own one-yard line with punts and combined to punt five times for a 39.2 average with two inside the five-yard line. Binswanger was also two-for-two on field goals.

The Herd was totally out-played in the first half, being out-gained 307 to 117 in total offense. Most of that 117 came in a 68-yard drive for a field goal to end a shutout by the Knights. Despite the yardage difference, and having been on the field nearly six minutes more that the MU offense, the Herd defense had played well in holding the Knights to an early touchdown and two field goals. Then with a fourth-and-one at mid-field, Snyder looked as if not going for the down was the right play when Binswanger put a 51-yard punt out at the UCF one-yard line. Three plays later, however, not going was the wrong call when Smith followed a ten yard swing pass for a first down with an 87-yard sweep to the right into a 20-0 lead for the Knights with just over five minutes to play in the half.

Back came the Herd offense with its first true drive of the first half, having just 49 yards of total offense in the first 25 minutes of the game and, once again, no touchdown in the first quarter. Morris mixed passes to Slate, Emmanuel Spann and Passmore to move the Herd from its own 28 to the UCF six, where it was first and goal. Marshall rushed for two yards, but back-to-back passes into the end zone led Snyder to send in Binswanger for a 21 yard field goal that cut the lead to 20-3 with around two minutes to play, but that hardly mattered to UCF.

Back came to Knights with a 71-yard drive, helped by Mario Harvey (playing with Josh Johnson missing the game with legal problems) making a late hit clearly out of bounds. Smith had 20 yards, then 15 more on the penalty. Israel ran for 11, then two plays later pump-faked Hall and found Waters for a wide-open touchdown pass to go up 27-3 with :26 to play. Watters came into the game with just four catches all year, but had four for 49 yards and the score against the Herd in the first half.

The poor play continued for Marshall as Courtney Edmonson grabbed a kickoff that looked like it was going out of bounds and barely took the ball to the 13-yard line and the Herd ran out the clock, slumping into the locker room while the UCF students bounced and jumped in the sold-out stadium for Homecoming. After beating UCF three times in a row in the MAC, the Herd appeared headed for its third consecutive loss to the Knights in C-USA play and eighth loss in nine games in the 2007 season. Marshall has not won on the road since October 21 last season over UAB and is just 2-17 away from Huntington under Snyder.


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