Marshall and UAB duked it out in a close game in Huntington on Saturday with a close result. The Blazers came out on top 21-14 in a contest that showed the extent to which UAB has rebounded from their surprising loss to Rice on October 23.
It was a day to remember the victims of one of the greatest tragedies in the history of college football with the number 75 painted on the field and on the side of Marshall’s helmets. Unfortunately for the Herd faithful, they also witnessed their team struggle from the start in this game.
Marshall’s high-powered offense was forced to punt eight times in this game and Grant Wells threw an interception directly to a UAB defender with the game on the line. Other than that, there were a few key things to note in this game that had major C-USA title race implications.
Grant Wells’ Second Half Issues
Wells leads the league in interceptions thrown with 12. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns on the season as well. Looking at Wells’ season, the Charleston native has played objectively better in the first halves of games than in the later quarters. In the first and second quarters, Wells has thrown for seven touchdowns and three interceptions. In the third and fourth quarters, Wells has thrown five touchdowns with nine interceptions despite fewer pass attempts by him in the second half. Marshall’s final offensive play on Saturday when Wells was easily picked off by UAB’s Grayson Cash as the Herd were driving toward the end zone are evidence of the developments the third-year redshirt freshman still needs to make.
DeWayne McBride Adds To His Resume
The impressive nature of the Blazers’ running game has been a common storyline through the last several years in Conference USA. Sophomore DeWayne McBride is continuing that tradition this season and added to his already strong list of accomplishments on Saturday. McBride finished the day with 25 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. That marked the Starke, Florida native’s fourth 100-yard game of the season. McBride now has 10 rushing touchdowns this season, with nine of them coming in the last four games. McBride’s yardage total comes to 945 on the year with two games remaining on the Blazers’ schedule.
More Discipline Taking Root For UAB
UAB came into Saturday’s game as the third-most penalized team in FBS. Saturday was a step in the right direction in that department for the Blazers. The Blazers were penalized just six times in this game, which tied a season low for the team. As head coach Bill Clark put it in his post-game comments posted by Evan Dudley of AL.com, “We played a clean game...They let us play, they let it play like a championship game until a few there at the end. I was really pleased and thought we kept our composure all game.”
Get Your Moonshine Ready
With this Marshall loss, provided both Marshall and Western Kentucky win next week, the rivalry game known as “The Moonshine Throwdown” between the Herd and the Tops would function as the C-USA East championship game with the winner facing the winner of C-USA West. If WKU wins, their conference win total will be the highest in the division. If Marshall wins, their win totals will be the same, but the Herd will own that critical head-to-head victory against WKU, giving Charles Huff a championship game appearance in his first season at the helm. With this win for the Blazers, UAB are still alive in the C-USA West race, though it’s a tall task being up against an undefeated UTSA team next week.
Losing the “75 Game”
Even 50 years following a tragedy isn’t enough time for a community to fully heal. That isn’t necessarily the case for Huntington, West Virginia and those affected by the deaths of 75 Marshall University players, coaches, and fans in a plane crash 50 years ago on November 14, 1970.
“I understand fully how much this weekend means to a lot of people, myself included. I told them to honor them with their performance...I’d cut my right finger off if we could win the game,” Marshall HC Charles Huff said postgame.
I encourage you all to read Chuck Landon’s thoughts on this posted in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, because I simply can’t do it justice.