Saturday, November 10, 2018

Strong Third Quarter Helps Marshall Take Down Charlotte

Huntington, WV – Marshall (6-3; C-USA: 4-2) put up 17 third-quarter points to pull away from Charlotte (4-6; C-USA: 3-3) for a 30-13 Conference USA East Division victory, Saturday at Edwards Stadium.

The two teams battled to a 13-10 halftime score but Marshall put up 167 yards of total offense and scored on three straight drives in the decisive quarter.

"The third quarter was the tell in this game," said 49ers head coach Brad Lambert. "We couldn't get off the field defensively. They were a little bit better on third down than we were. We couldn't get anything going offensively."

Sr. S Ed Rolle forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Timmy Horne on the first play of the second half to give Charlotte the ball at the Marshall 20. Cruz's 35-yard field goal tied the score, 13-13 with 13:48 left to play. Marshall, however, scored 17 straight points after that to open up a 30-13 lead heading into the final quarter.

After Cruz's field goal tied the score to start the second half, Marshall converted three third downs on it's next drive to move 75 yards for the go-ahead score. Brendan Knox crashed in from four yards out to put Marshall ahead 20-13. After a three-and-out by the 49ers ended with a sack deep in Charlotte territory, Marshall took over at the 49ers' 43.  Knox had six carries for 30 yards to set up Justin Rohrwasser's 23-yard field goal.  Another three-and-out gave Marshall the ball at midfield, and the Herd drove 50 yards on five plays to score on Isaiah Green's 10-yard TD pass to Obi Obialo. 

Knox finished with 116 yards rushing – the first opponent to rush for over 100 yards against the 49ers, this season.

"They ran the ball pretty good on us," Lambert added.  "Their offensive line played well. We couldn't get the field position in the third quarter.  We just couldn't get anything going in the second half."

Charlotte took the game's opening drive 75 yards and scored on QB Evan Shirreffs one-yard keeper to take a 7-0 lead.  The 12-play drive ate up 6:18 of the first quarter and included 11 running plays after a 12-yard pass to Rico Arnold started the drive.  Benny LeMay had six carries for 41 yards, including a 19-yard rush into the red zone as the 49ers broke a string of seven quarters without a touchdown.

Marshall answered with a 59-yard drive that stalled at the 49ers six-yard line when Nafees Lyon broke up Green's pass to wideout Tyre Brady in the endzone.  The Herd settled for a 23-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

On Charlotte's next drive, the Herd blocked the 49ers punt and recovered on the 49ers' one-yard line. Anthony Anderson scored from one-yard out for the first rushing TD allowed by the 49ers in four games to give Marshall a 10-7 lead.

Marshall kicked a 33-yard field goal with 4:21 left in the half and the 49ers followed with their own 11-play; 47-yard drive to set up Jonathan Cruz's 40-yard field goal as the clock expired. With the boot, Cruz extended his school-record to seven field goals made from 40 or more yards.

"We gave up a touchdown, basically on our punt team again," Lambert noted. "Defensively we did some good things. We've got to tighten up on the run in the third quarter.  They hit some third downs. We've got to go back and look at third down make sure we're putting our guys in the right position to get off the field."

Charlotte enjoyed a 171-130 advantage on total offense, but the Thundering Herd led 13-10 at the break, thanks in part to the one-yard scoring drive after the blocked punt.

Charlotte had 103 yards rushing in the first half, led by LeMay's 45 and freshman Ishod Finger's 33 rushing yards.  Shirreffs was 6-of-12 for 68 yards. Green finished the half 9-of-16 for Marshall for 104 yards. Brady led the Herd with five catches for 84 yards.

LeMay finished with 70 yards rushing and Finger added a career-high 34. Shirreffs was 8-of-18 for 74 yards. R-Fr. Rico Arnold had four catches for 49 yards, all  in the first half.  Marshall put up 325 yards of total offense, including 195 in the second half.  Charlotte, one of three teams in the fBS that has npot allowed an opponent to rush for over 150 yards, gave up a season-high 147 to the Herd.  Green connected on 15-of-25 passes for 178 yards and a TD.  Brady had six catches for 95 yards for the Herd.

Lyon, Ben DeLuca and Juwan Foggie led the 49ers with 10 tackles, apiece.

"I told the guys, the mission we set out on, last February is still in front of us," Lambert said. "We know what we've got to do. We've got to go back, start preparing tomorrow and go win a game on Saturday."

The 49ers return to Charlotte for the 49ers final home game of  season, Nov. 17 vs. FIU.  Game time will be 2 p.m.