HUNTINGTON, WV (WOAY) – Entering today, Marshall had gone 17 years without a victory over a top 25 opponent.
By 7:00 pm that changed, when the Thundering Herd completed a hard-fought, 17-7 victory over No. 23 Appalachian State.
“What a great football game that was,” said 11th-year head coach Doc Holliday, who now improves to 1-8 against ranked teams. “Just really proud of how hard our kids played and just kept fighting the entire game.”
In a game filled with important defensive stops by Marshall, one truly swung the game. Trailing by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Mountaineers quarterback Zac Thomas connected with a wide-open Mike Evans. As Evans raced towards the goal line, safety Brandon Drayton poked the ball loose and Nazeeh Johnson recovered it in the end zone. Marshall’s lead was miraculously preserved.
The Mountaineers would have one more chance to get back in the game. With 2:54 left in the fourth, kicker Chandler Salton lined up for a 26-yard field goal but missed it wide right. The Herd would hold on for the victory.
At first, Saturday’s matchup at Joan C. Edwards Stadium looked like a shootout. On each team’s first offensive possession, they drove down the field and scored. But the contest quickly devolved into a defensive showdown. In the first half, both Thomas and Marshall quarterback Grant Wells threw interceptions in the red zone. 11 drives ended in punts in total.
But in the end, Marshall’s offense made more plays when it counted. Leading 10-7 in the third, Wells connected with a wide-open Xavier Gaines for 63 yards. The next play, Wells kept the ball on a read-option for a 12-yard rushing touchdown. That proved to be the final score of the game.
The Thundering Herd have not been ranked since the conclusion of the 2014 season. With the massive win, fans can expect that to change come Monday.
Due to cancellations, Marshall is not scheduled to play again until October 10th against Western Kentucky.