HUNTINGTON, WV (WOAY) – It would be difficult to imagine a smoother Week 1 for the Marshall Thundering Herd.
The offense gained 627 yards, the defense pitched a shutout and the Herd dominated FCS-foe Eastern Kentucky 59-0. Redshirt freshman Grant Wells completed 16 of 23 passes for 307 yards and 4 touchdowns, setting a record for most yards by a Marshall quarterback in their debut.
Following Isaiah Green’s sudden transfer in July, the quarterback position was one of the team’s biggest question marks entering Saturday. After four quarters of action, that question mark turned into an exclamation mark, at least for now.
Wells found senior tight end Xavier Gaines for a 22-yard touchdown to cap his first drive as a starter. He added three more scoring strikes before halftime.
Even his offseason competition looked sharp, as backup Luke Zban completed 6 of 6 passes for 36 yards and his own touchdown pass.
Wells will draw the headlines, but the running game picked up where it left off from last year. Reigning Conference USA Most Valuable Player Brendan Knox gained 85 yards with a touchdown. Sophomore Knowledge McDaniel added 93 of his own and the senior-laden Marshall offensive line paved the way for 282 rushing yards on the day.
Marshall’s defense held Eastern Kentucky to just 166 total yards and 7 first downs. Senior linebacker Tavante Beckett paced the defense with 8 tackles.
The Thundering Herd have not lost a season opener since 2012.
Next, Marshall takes a week off before meeting Appalachian State at home on September 19. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 14-8.