"It was a game of big plays," said Snyder of his team's home run plays. "They're going to stack it up and try to stop our run, we're going to have to hit an x amount of big plays." The fourth-year head coach was very happy with all phases of the game for Marshall with an opening win and good play on offense, defense and special teams. "I told our players it's a far cry from where we've been. We played a clean football game. We wanted to see where exactly we're at and what we can do."
Darius Passmore hauled in this 88-yard touchdown with :25 left in the second quarter against Illinois State. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Herd got some great first-game performances today, led by red-shirt freshman Mark Cann. The South Carolinian hit 11-of-22 passes, throwing one interception in the first half when he forced a ball into the end zone at a covered E.J. Wynn. Other than that, the frosh looked like a vet when he took the field with 35 seconds left in the first half and found Darius Passmore down the home sideline for an 88-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead. The Herd only led at the half in four games last year, and won three of those for the only victories in a 3-9 injury-plagued season.
First score, last score: Chubb Small (above) got the scoring for Marshall in 2008 going with this TD run with 10:00 left in the first quarter. Below, RB Terrell Edwards added the final score of the game against Illinois State, going for 49 yards in front of coach Mark Snyder with just :33 left in the game. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
"We knew going into the game that we were going to protect him (Cann), I thought we did a good job with that for the most part," said Snyder. "I thought managed the game pretty well. I think he'll continue to get better and better."
Albert McClellan dragged down Illinois State QB Kevin Brockway in the second quarter. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Herd finished off the Redbirds with 32.5 seconds left in the game when red-shirt freshman Terrell Edwards took the ball down the home sideline for a 49-yard touchdown on the second carry of his career. Add in a first quarter touchdown, another area where the Herd came up short last year with only five scores in the opening period and none before game eight with Rice. Chubb Small put the Herd up 7-0 with a 16-yard run through the ISU defense and Marshall led with 10:46 to play in the first.
Back came the Redbirds, who got a nice drive from red-shirt freshman Drew Kiel, who had to sub for senior Kevin Brockway when he was dropped by Mario Harvey and Ian Hoskins on a pass early after the Herd score. Kiel came into his first game and drove the team 76 yards in 17 plays, finding Eyad Salem for a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game with 1:08 to play in the first. Brockway would return after seven stitches in his chin, but Kiel was 4-for-5 for 33 yards and the only touchdown of the day for Illinois State.
Darius Marshall high-stepped it into the end zone on this TD run against the Redbirds. Marshall was a workhorse for The Herd, running for 115 yards. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The second half would also open well for the Herd, as the Herd got a second big punt return from Emmanuel Spann. Spann returned a 50-yard ISU punt by Bobby Kelsey 24 yards and set MU up at the 'Birds 39-yard line. He drove the Herd into the end zone in four plays, a 13-yard reverse for Passmore, then 13 yards in two carries by Darius Marshall followed by a 13-yard touchdown to Passmore to give the Herd a 21-7 lead. Passmore led MU with four catches for 111 yards and the two touchdowns, nearly half of the five he had all of last year while battling injuries.
QB Mark Cann finished with a 11-of-22 passing night, good for 161 yards and two TD throws. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Marshall, the running back, was a real workhorse for the Herd. The sophomore had his first 100-yard plus rushing game, finishing with 115 yards and one touchdown and added 29 more all-purpose yards on a kickoff return. The running game had three scores, one by each back, and gained a total of 229 yards on just 32 attempts (7.2 yards per rush) behind an offensive line with just two seniors, and Matt Altobello making his first start at guard. Red-shirt freshmen tackles Ryan Tillman and Charles Wood shared time at the left and right, but started, over Daniel Baldridge and Brandon Campbell, who also played well.