Tavante Beckett might as well be an offensive player with the amount of touches he received in Marshall’s 38-14 victory over WKU on Saturday night.
Wherever there was a loose ball, Beckett was sure to be there. The outside linebacker earned himself a personal hat trick in the Moonshine Throwdown rivalry by recovering all three of WKU’s fumbles. In the early minutes of the third quarter, Beckett scooped up the ball and ran his final of his three recoveries into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown — Marshall’s final touchdown in the obliteration. The scoop-and-score marked the first touchdown of Beckett’s decorated career with the Thundering Herd.
From kickoff to final whistle, Marshall remained in firm control throughout. The Thundering Herd led 38-0 until the final play of the third quarter, securing their third double-digit victory of the season while preserving an undefeated 3-0 record. But of Marshall’s three games, the win over WKU was the first to count in the C-USA standings.
Offensively, Marshall received a considerable boost from All-C-USA running back Brenden Knox. With 103 yards against the Hilltoppers, Knox has surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in eight of his last 11 games with the Herd. Just like Beckett, Knox enjoyed a hat trick as well. WKU couldn’t stop the shifty halfback near the goal line, and Knox entered halftime with three rushing touchdowns — marking a career-high for the junior.
Outside of Knox, the offense effectively wore out WKU with an efficient day by quarterback Grant Wells. After a down performance against Appalachian State, the freshman bounced back to complete 16 of his 22 attempts, good for 162 yards. His No. 1 option on the road Saturday night was wide receiver Broc Thompson. Thompson inflicted all of his damage in the first half, catching four passes for a career-best 94 yards when pitted up against WKU’s secondary.
While Marshall dominated on every front, WKU continued to look for answers. Trailing 35-0, the Hilltoppers pulled starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome in the early third quarter after two lost fumbles and 61 passing yards on 21 attempts. The game was all but over, but backup Kevaris Thomas managed to contribute one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown when working as the chief signal caller in the second half.
For the fourth-straight game in the blossoming 2020 season, the Hilltoppers have yet to establish the run. WKU has averaged under four yards per rush in each outing, and the team’s best rushing performance of the season remains Pigrome’s 74 yards against Liberty. A quarterback has led the Hilltoppers in rushing in all four games, and Thomas took the honors Saturday with 30 yards on seven attempts. WKU’s 10 carries allocated to its running backs went for just 28 yards in the brutal loss.
WKU falls to 1-3 with the lopsided defeat to Marshall. The Hilltoppers have now dropped four straight in the rivalry series after three-consecutive victories over the Herd from 2013-16. Since both programs joined the C-USA, Marshall now holds a 4-3 advantage in the Moonshine Throwdown.
While Marshall has created an impressive winning streak in the rivalry, the Thundering Herd are working on stringing together another streak. With a 3-0 record, ESPN’s FPI predicts Marshall has a 19.0% chance of finishing undefeated, trailing just Ohio State, Clemson, BYU, and Oregon in that statistic. The Thundering Herd aim to re-join the AP Poll ranks this Sunday after another impressive showing on both sides of the ball.