Special Teams Lifts Thundering Herd to Thrilling 20-19 Win over UAB|
Oct. 15, 2005
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - All season long, Marshall head coach Mark Snyder has stressed the importance of good special teams and that was apparent Saturday night. The Marshall Thundering Herd capitalized on a pair of UAB special teams miscues as the Herd took a thrilling 20-19 victory over the Blazers at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Marshall (3-3, 2-1 C-USA) won its second consecutive home game in thrilling fashion, while the Herd won its 13th consecutive Homecoming game. UAB (3-3, 1-2 C-USA) dropped its second straight Conference USA game.
Ahmad Bradshaw (Bluefield, Va.) led the Herd with 72 yards rushing on 17 carries and a touchdown. Bradshaw finished with 107 yards of total offense. UAB's Dan Burks led all rushers with 115 yards on 18 carries.
Darrell Hackney threw for 245 yards on 20-of-35 passing with a touchdown and an interception, while Bernie Morris (Orlando, Fla.), the hero once again for the Herd at home, finished 14-of-28 with 99 yards and a touchdown. Morris also ran for 50 yards, including his eventual game-winning 40-yard touchdown, on eight carries.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Thundering Herd was held scoreless in the first quarter. Marshall has not scored in the opening period since scoring 10 points against Kansas State on Sept. 10.
On Marshall's first posession, the Herd, which began at its own 20-yard line, drove 73 yards on 13 plays in 6:21, but was unable to convert on fourth down, turning the ball over to UAB. The Herd, which was well within kicker Ian O'Connor's (Knoxville, Tenn.) range, elected to go for it on fourth-and-eight at the UAB 14-yard line. Scott Wilks (Maryville, Tenn.) ran an option fake around right side for seven yards, but fell a yard short of the first down.
The Herd defense, however, was able to prevent the Blazers from moving down the field, forcing UAB to punt on its three first quarter drives.
Marshall began its second drive of the first quarter at the UAB 49-yard line, but was unable to take advantage of the good field position and was forced to punt.
Marshall was also forced to punt on its third possession of the first quarter after going three-and-out.
The Herd's fourth drive began late in the first quarter, with the period ending before the Herd could score. On the second play of the second quarter, Morris connected on a five-yard touchdown pass with Marcus Fitzgerald (Minneapolis, Minn.), giving Marshall a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing UAB possession, the Blazers responded with an 11-play, 49-yard drive resulting in a 33-yard field goal Parker Mullins to cut the Herd lead to 7-3.
With UAB driving deep in Marshall territory, senior free safey Chris Royal (Herndon, Va.) picked off Darrell Hackney's pass at the Marshall 20-yard line. It was Royal's second interception in as many games.
Marshall then drove 74 yards in 10 plays, using 2:04 on the clock, to get down to the UAB six-yard line thanks to three 15-yard personal foul penalities on UAB. But, Julius Wainwright ended Marshall's scoring opportunity, intercepting an errant Morris pass in the end zone.
UAB's Dan Burks led all rushers with 66 yards on nine carries in the first half, while Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 44 yards on nine carries. Bradshaw led all players with 69 total yards of offense in the first half.
Morris was 10-of-19 for 77 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Hackney was 5-of-14 for 39 yards with an interception.
UAB didn't waste any time with the opening kickoff of the second half. The Blazers drove 88 yards on just six plays in 1:33, capped off by a 19-yard touchdown pass by Hackney to Lance Rhodes, giving UAB its first lead, 10-7.
After the Herd couldn't convert on its first drive of the second half, UAB was pinned deep in its own territory. The Blazers were forced to punt, but Ivan Clark (Ford, Va.) blocked Mullins' attempt and recovered it at the UAB 18-yard line. Two plays later, Bradshaw punched it in from 12 yards out, giving the lead back to the Herd, 14-10.
On the ensuing UAB possession, the Herd defense had the Blazers pinned deep in their own territory, but the Herd was penalized for two personal foul infractions, giving UAB an automatic first down and new life at the 37-yard line.
UAB capitalized on the Herd miscues, using 8:52 of clock time on a 15-play, 88-yard drive. Mullins' 21-yard field goal at the 14:12 mark of the fourth quarter trimmed Marshall's lead to 14-13.
UAB scored on its ensuing drive which was keyed by Hackney's 51-yard completion to Chico Cleveland down to the Marshall eight-yard line. Two plays later, Corey White ran in from two yards out. UAB's two-point attempt failed as Hackney's pass fell out of the hands of Cleveland, giving the Blazers a 19-14 lead with 11:01 remaining in regulation.
After a 10-yard shanked punt off the foot of Mullins, Marshall needed just one play to regain the lead for good. Morris ran around right tackle for a 40-yard touchdown dash down the right side of the field, putting the Herd ahead of the Blazers 20-19 with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter.
UAB frantically drove down field in the last two minutes of game and after a false start penalty, was forced to attempt a 51-yard field goal by Mullins, which fell just short as time expired.
The Marshall Thundering Herd will return to action Saturday, Oct. 22, when it travels to El Paso, Texas, to face UTEP in a scheduled 9 p.m. (EST) kickoff at the Sun Bowl.