Aug. 30, 2008
HUNTINGTON - Marshall University opened the 2008 football season with a 35-10 victory delighting a Joan C. Edwards Stadium crowd of 25,661 on a warm and muggy opening day.
In his first game as Marshall starting quarterback, redshirt freshman Mark Cann completed 11-of-22 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Cann's primary target was senior wide out Darius Passmore, who finished the day 111 yards receiving on just four catches to reach the third 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Sophomore running back Darius Marshall finished the day with 115 yards on 20 carries. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance of his career. Terrell Edwards and Cubb Small each added touchdown carries of their own.
Defensively, Albert McClellan showed no rust from his year off as he recorded two sacks. Safety C.J. Spillman led Marshall with 13 total tackles.
Redbird starting quarterback Kevin Brockway was knocked out of the game on Illinois Sate's opening drive. He returned late in the second quarter and finished the game with 196 yards on 20-of-38 passing. Freshman backup Drew Kiel also completed 4-of-5 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown.
The Herd, which failed to score a first quarter touchdown until its 11th game in 2007, jumped on the board early. Marshall senior Emanuel Spann returned an Illinois State punt to the Redbirds' 31-yardline to set up the Herd's second drive. After a 19 yard run by Darius Marshall, Small scampered up the middle for 16 yards to put Marshall on top 7-0.
Illinois State responded with a 17-play 76-yard scoring drive led by short, accurate passing from Kiel. The freshman eventually hooked up with Eyad Salem on a fade route for the score.
Marshall turned the ball over on downs on its next drive, but junior Mario Harvey picked off a third down attempt by Kiel and returned it inside the Redbird's 10-yardline. The Thundering Herd looked to be on precipice of another score but Illinois State safety Tom Nelson intercepted Cann's pass intended for E.J. Wynn.
The Redbirds again worked their way down the field. A screen pass to running back Geno Blow for a touchdown was called back due to block below the waist. Illinois State eventually punted and pinned the Herd on their own two yard line.
With just 35 seconds left to play in the half, Cann completed the first touchdown pass of the year as he found Passmore scorching down the right sideline for an 88-yard touchdown strike to put Marshall up 14-7 at the half.
The Herd defense carried the momentum over into the second half, forcing a three and out as McClellan picked up his second sack of the game.
Marshall took over at the Redbird 39-yardline and Cann hit Passmore on a 19-yard screen pass for the duo's second score of the evening to stretch the Herd's lead to 21-7.
Illinois State again refused to go away. The Redbirds moved the ball all the Herd's five before settling for a field goal.
Marshall's next drive stalled near midfield and the Herd punted the ball away. However, the Marshall defense stuffed the Redbirds at the two and forced a punt from their own end zone.
Emmanuel Spann returned the ball to the Illinois State 25-yardline and a personal foul moved the ball up to the 10. On the next play, Darius Marshall tacked on another Marshall touchdown to break the game open, 28-10.
Terrell Edwards capped the Herd's night with a vicious power run down the sideline, barreling through a Redbird defender on his way to a 49-yard touchdown with just 30 seconds remaining in the contest.
Sophomore running back Darius Marshall finished the day with 115 yards on 20 carries. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance of his career. The last 100-yard rushing performance was Bernard Morris against ECU in 2007.
Mark Cann completed an 88-yard touchdown pass to Darius Passmore to end the first half. It was the longest touchdown pass for Marshall since a 90-yard touchdown completion from Steven Galbraith to Lanier Washington on Sept. 30, 2000 against Buffalo.
Senior Darius Passmore has made good use of his two years in Huntington as he reached the third 100-yard receiving game of his Marshall career.
Five true freshmen made their debut for the Thundering Herd against Illinois State. The five were: cornerback Ahmed Shakoor, linebacker George Carpenter, defensive back Omar Brown , punter Kase Whitehead and linebacker Tyson Gale.
In his first collegiate start Marshall's freshman punter Kase Whitehead kicked six times for 247 yards and a 41.2 yard average and a 49-yard long. Whitehead placed four of his six punts inside the 20-yardline.
Marshall University unveiled the newly renovated Ernie Salvatore Press Box dedicated to Thundering Herd's longtime beat writer.
Marshall tight end Cody Slate was injured early in the third quarter and did not return.