As the Marshall Thundering Herd travelled to Annapolis, Maryland (Charles Huff’s home state) to face Navy in their opening game of 2021, C-USA observers wondered if a first-year head coach would be able to keep up with an experienced Navy team as the Midshipmen rebounded from a rough 2020.
As it turns out, it wasn’t much of an issue for the visitors.
The Herd defense totaled nine sacks on the day, which was the program’s second-highest single game total. Sophomore linebacker Eli Neal recorded three sacks after compiling 1.5 total sacks in his first 23 games at Marshall. Abraham Beauplan was their leading tackler with 13.
The Marshall defense also forced Navy into 21 third downs and only allowed them to convert only 8. Navy did convert three of five fourth downs, as well. In the second half, the deficit forced Navy into a throw-first mentality, leading to two interceptions by the Marshall defense.
Overall, Marshall’s offensive attack was balanced in the win. Grant Wells threw for 333 yards on 20 completions out of thirty attempts. That also included two interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Luke Zban also threw a touchdown late in the game when the victory was already secured for the Herd. The other six touchdowns for Marshall all came on the ground.
Wells, Rasheen Ali, Sheldon Evans, Rasheen Ali, and Knowledge McDaniel combined for 101 yards. While the Herd didn’t have a run longer than 12 yards on Saturday, Ali and Evans were particularly effective in the Red Zone with four and two scores, respectively.
Marshal also lost one fumble out of four to bring their total turnover count for the day to three.
While Navy was not successful in scoring, the triple option earned Navy 337 yards on the ground. Fullback James Harris II was the leading gainer for the Midshipmen with 80 yards and Xavier Arline netted their only touchdown.
Marshall head coach Charles Huff goes to greet wife Jessica, son BJ and family after his first head coaching win with the Herd - a 49-7 road win over Navy. pic.twitter.com/f6C2gXghpw— Grant Traylor (@GrantTraylor) September 4, 2021
Marshall’s next contest will be back home in Huntington against the North Carolina Central Eagles out of the FCS on September 11th.
Navy looks forward to a home game against Air Force on the twentieth anniversary of September 11th, 2001.