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MCGILL: Herd Season Ends with Loss; Focus Shifts to 2017

Freshman quarterback Garet Morrell
Nov. 26, 2016

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By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall’s football season came to an end Saturday night in a 60-6 loss to WKU in front of 17,397 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The Thundering Herd finishes the season at 3-9 overall and 2-6 in Conference USA. On senior night, 11 of Marshall’s 22 starters on offense and defense were different from the starting lineup in the season opener Sept. 10.

MU coach Doc Holliday, who wrapped up his seventh season on the sidelines here, declined to use that as a reason for the team’s struggles.

“I don’t think that’s an excuse in any way, shape or form,” Holliday said. “We’ll take a look at that and see why. We had a lot of guys missing out there.”

WKU (9-3, 7-1 C-USA) scored the first 48 points of the game on six touchdowns – three passing, two rushing, one kick return – and two field goals. Marshall’s only score came on a 4-yard pass from true freshman quarterback Garet Morrell to junior tight end Ryan Yurachek.

“Obviously there’s not a whole lot to be said,” Holliday said. “They’re a good football team; we’re not a good football team right now. We did not meet the standards and expectations that should be met around here this year. We’ll go back to work … and make sure this never happens again.”

Holliday said the evaluation of the team will start Saturday night and bleed into Sunday’s team meetings.

Morrell, who was making his second career start, finished 19 of 35 passing for 143 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice. Morrell, who is from Leesburg, Georgia, started in place of sophomore Chase Litton, who missed the game with a shoulder injury.

“He was hurt,” Holliday said. “Developed a shoulder issue that kept him from being able to throw the ball.”

Sophomore running back Anthony Anderson paced the team with 33 rushing yards on 18 carries. Tony Pittman added 31 yards on 10 attempts. Deon-Tay McManus again led the team in receptions after his career game at FIU last week, and finished with seven catches for 45 yards. Yurachek’s touchdown catch, which extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 29 games, was his only one.

He lamented the loss for the 13 seniors on the team.

“I feel for those guys,” Yurachek said. “It stinks for those guys … to work their tails off. That’s not how anybody should go out. I feel awful for those guys.”

WKU opened the scoring with a 93-yard kickoff return by Kylen Towner to start the game. The Hilltoppers held the lead for all but 14 seconds of the 60-minute contest.

WKU quarterback Mike White tossed two touchdown passes in the first quarter and another in the second. He finished 16 of 27 passing for 233 yards and three scores.

The Hilltoppers had a pair of 100-yard rushers: Anthony Wales (110) and Quinton Baker (104). Wales scored twice to set the school record for rushing touchdowns in a single season (20), and Baker established a single-game career high for rushing yards.

Junior cornerback Rodney Allen led Marshall with 11 tackles, while senior safety Corey Neely added nine tackles to finish as the season leader in that category.

WKU will host Louisiana Tech in next Saturday’s C-USA championship game. Marshall will focus its attention on the future.

“We’re going to have a meeting (Sunday) and get back to work on Monday and make sure it doesn’t happen in 2017,” Yurachek said. “We lost confidence this year for whatever reason. Things never went our way. Some games we didn’t deserve to win, some games we shot ourselves in the foot, some games we just didn’t get that bounce.

“Things didn’t go our way. It wasn’t our year. It’s our fault.”