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MCGILL: Marshall Miscues Add Up in Loss to Charlotte

Chris Jackson
Oct. 22, 2016

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By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – In the aftermath of Marshall’s 27-24 loss to Charlotte on Saturday night at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Herd coach Doc Holliday cited penalties, turnovers and an inability to make plays as the culprits.

Marshall (2-5, 1-2 Conference USA) failed to score on its final eight possessions and was held scoreless in the second half by Charlotte (3-5, 2-2 C-USA). Kicker Amoreto Curraj missed a game-tying 40-yard field goal attempt with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter to seal the game for the visiting 49ers.

“They found a way to win that game in the end and we didn’t,” Holliday said. “It’s disappointing.

“I thought there were penalties – way too many penalties. (We) had the opportunity to make some plays there and unfortunately we didn’t make them. They did and we didn’t.”

Marshall was penalized 12 times for 115 yards and turned the ball over once via fumble and another on an interception. The fumble was particularly devastating, as it turns out. Herd sophomore running back Keion Davis fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback, but had he scored Marshall would have built a two-touchdown lead early in the third quarter.

After Davis’ fumble, which came on second down at the 1-yard line, the Herd offense managed 68 yards on 25 the rest of the way – 2.7 yards per play over a span of four possessions.

“We moved the ball around but we don’t take care of the ball there going in to score with Keion,” Holliday said, “and we didn’t take care the ball and had way too many penalties and didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays.”

“You at least hope you get three (points) there,” Holliday said of the red zone turnover.

Marshall held a 24-17 lead at halftime after scoring on four consecutive possessions. Charlotte opened the game with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead, but the Herd answered three consecutive touchdown drives and then a 38-yard field goal by Curraj.

Two of Marshall’s touchdowns came on passes from sophomore quarterback Chase Litton to senior receiver Justin Hunt – the first for 4 yards and the second for 5 yards. The passing TD pushed Litton’s streak of consecutive games with a scoring pass to 17 games, and the multi-touchdown effort moved him into a tie for eighth on the program’s all-time touchdown pass list with Carl Fodor (39).

Hunt’s 4-yard touchdown reception came after Marshall freshman cornerback Chris Jackson returned an interception 31 yards. It was Hunt’s first career two-touchdown game.

Davis opened the scoring for Marshall with a 2-yard run, which capped a six-play, 80-yard drive.

“We didn’t start fast at all, of course we had issues there,” Holliday said. “But we responded and came back and answered … but we didn’t finish at the end of the game there and that’s disappointing.”

The Herd’s final possession started with 2:37 left of the game after the defense forced Charlotte to punt. The drive started on Charlotte side of the field – at the 46 – and Davis quickly broke off runs of 8 and 19 yards to push Marshall into the red zone.

The drive fizzled out from there, though, as Litton was sacked and then had two incompletions, including a dropped pass on third and 14. That set up Curraj’s potential game-tying kick, which sailed wide left.

Quarterback Hasaan Klugh finished 17-for-31 passing for 203 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception for Charlotte. Kalif Phillips paced the 49ers on the ground with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. It was Phillips who put Charlotte ahead for good, 27-24, on a 2-yard run with 8:32 left of the fourth quarter.

Litton was 32-for-46 passing for 262 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Davis led the way in rushing with a career-high 90 yards and one score.

Senior receiver Josh Knight continued his hot streak, catching a career-high 10 passes for 94 yards. He had nine receptions last week against Florida Atlantic. Deon-Tay McManus also established a new career best for receptions with seven for 72 yards.

Kendall Gant led Marshall with 14 tackles (seven solo). The true freshman Jackson had his second consecutive game of recording an interception, tackle for a loss and at least a partial sack. He finished with the interception, a solo sack and two tackles for a loss.

Marshall travels to play Southern Mississippi (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) next Saturday at 7 p.m.