Marshall Beats Memphis to Win C-USA Opener


Darius Passmore

Darius Passmore

Sept. 13, 2008

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HUNTINGTON - Saturday's game between Marshall and Memphis may not have been the offensive showcase that many fans were expecting, but the 27,349 faithful in Joan C. Edwards Stadium were surely satisfied as the Thundering Herd downed the Tigers for a hard fought 17-16 win in its Conference USA opener.

Darius Marshall continued put together a strong sophomore campaign. The Milledgeville, Ga. native eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the second time in three games, gaining 140 yards on the ground on 27 carries. Freshman quarterback Mark Cann completed 14-of-28 passes for 224 yards. Six of those were complete to senior wide out Darius Passmore, who once again went over 100-yards receiving and had touchdown.

Despite surrendering 462 yards of total offense to Memphis, the Thundering Herd defense was able to hold the Tigers to just one touchdown and three field goals. Maurice Kitchens totaled a team high 12 tackles and was one of three Marshall linebackers to register a sack.

It took Marshall all of four plays to score on the game's opening drive as Darius Marshall picked up his third rushing touchdown of the season with a 40-yard scamper over the left end. The quick strike by the Thundering Herd seemed to indicate the scoring slugfest that was expected. However, the only points the two sides were able to muster for the rest of the half came from a 44-yard field goal by the Tigers' Matt Reagan and a 31-yard kick from Craig Ratanamorn.

Memphis was able to move the ball inside the Marshall 10-yardline midway through the first half, but C.J. Spillman was able to jar the ball from quarterback Arkelon Hall as he scrambled from the pocket, setting up a recovery for Aaron Johnson. The Tigers were never able to get that deep into Herd territory again in the first half as Marshall took a 10-6 lead in to the locker room.

The Thundering Herd saw its lead quickly disappear as the Tigers were able to add on another Reagan field goal and Hall hooked up with Earnest Williams for a four-yard touchdown completion. Down 13-16 with 5:01 remaining in the third, Marshall rallied on its next drive, moving 71 yards in 10 plays and capitalizing on an 18 yard pass from Cann to a Passmore.

With 8:14 remaining Memphis again moved deep into Herd territory, but was unable to convert on third down at the Marshall eight-yard line. The Herd defense forced the Tigers to settle for another Reagan field goal.

Marshall worked its way to midfield on its next drive and a Ratanomorn punt pinned Memphis on its own one-yard line. The Herd defense rose to challenge forcing Memphis to give the ball back on downs at its own 49. After running the clock down to 16 seconds Marshall punted the ball away once more but a pair of deep pass attempts by Memphis was were batted down as clock ran out.