Honoring 30 seniors in their final home game of the 2021 season, Charlotte’s inability to stop the flood allowed the Marshall Thundering Herd to wash them away early, cruising to a 49-28 victory under the lights at Jerry Richardson Stadium on Saturday.
Coming out gnashing their teeth through the first possession, Charlotte methodically converted a 16-play drive that saw three conversions on fourth down turn into six points on a roll-out dart from Reynolds to “Sweet Feet” Keith Pearson for Pearson’s third touchdown in the last two weeks alone.
Marshall quickly responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, reaching paydirt in nearly half the time, capping off their push with a 25-yard touchdown scamper from redshirt freshman Rasheen Ali.
Marshall’s defense forcing Charlotte into grinding out drives and utilizing all four downs on every possession turned the tide as early as the second quarter, as it became clear that Charlotte’s defensive unit just couldn’t keep up with the acceleration and big-play ability Charles Huff’s offense was bringing to the table. What started as a +22 advantage in yards at the end of the first quarter for Charlotte was a -79 disadvantage cumulatively at the end of the first half as the Thundering Herd took a 21-14 lead to the locker room.
An abysmal showing to open up the second half for the 49ers, Charlotte was outscored 21-0 in the third quarter alone amassing just 57 total yards of offense. Rasheen Ali’s third rushing touchdown of the day came from four yards out with just two minutes remaining in the third quarter, pushing the Herd’s lead up to four possessions with the game completely out of reach.
The redshirt freshman from Cleveland wrapped up a career day with 203 yards on the ground, joining Duke’s Mataeo Durant and Illinois’ Chase Brown as three tailbacks that all were able to eclipse the two-century mark on the ground against Charlotte in 2021.
Despite their defensive shortcomings, Charlotte was able to reach the end zone twice in the fourth quarter, the first score of which came on a goal-line touchdown pass from roommate to roommate as Chris Reynolds found Cam Dollar for his second receiving touchdown of the day. Dollar came into the day with just three catches for 47 yards on the entire season, and finished his final game at Richardson Stadium with four catches, 50 yards and two touchdowns.
“We gotta do some grown up stuff and move on in a hurry,” said coach Will Healy. “I think the biggest thing is we come back tomorrow as a staff and dissect everything that happened and figure out what’s the best thing that can give us a chance to have success next week, because Old Dominion’s going to do some of the same things that have been biting us the past couple of weeks.”
As coach previously mentioned, the Niners head to Norfolk next week in a battle of two 5-6 programs seeking a hard-earned bowl bid, with kick-off scheduled for 2:00 PM ET on ESPN+.
Marshall heads back home for a date with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the famed Moonshine Throwdown, as the winner of the contest will stake claim to the East division and meet the UTSA Roadrunners in San Antonio for the conference championship.