What the Marshall offense lacked Saturday night, the defense thrived on and the Thundering Herd walked away with a 21-0 shutout victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes in front of 24,044 fans at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, West Virginia.
Despite the offense only producing seven points through the first three and a half quarters, the Marshall (2-1) defense pitched its second shutout against an FBS team since 2003 and the first since 2015 to win its 12th straight against Kent State (1-2) to improve to 2-0 on the season against MAC competition.
The Herd’s offense drove the ball to the Kent State 34-yard line on its first possession of the game, but the Golden Flashes stopped Marshall on fourth-and-two from their own 34 to give their offense the ball.
After trading punts, Kent State went on an impressive drive offensively and got the ball inside the Herd’s 10-yard line. But starting quarterback Nick Holley left the game with an injury on the drive and did not return.
And on fourth-and-one from the Marshall 9-yard line, the Herd’s defense forced a big stop to give its offense the ball back. Marshall’s offense began to drive the ball as the second quarter began, but Chase Litton was intercepted by Kent State’s Demetrius Monday and the Golden Flashes’ offense took over at their own 31-yard line.
The theme of the night continued, however, and Kent State squandered the opportunity when Shane Hynes missed a 42-yard field goal to give the Herd’s offense the ball at its own 29-yard line, still with 10:06 remaining in the second quarter.
After a few more punts, Marshall’s offense finally got into a rhythm late in the second quarter and went on a 13-play, 71-yard drive that was capped off with a Litton touchdown pass to Marcel Williams to give the Herd a 7-0 lead with 6 seconds remaining in the second quarter and that score held into halftime.
The Golden Flashes went on a long drive to open up the third quarter, but the drive ultimately stalled when backup quarterback George Bollas was intercepted by Marshall’s Chris Jackson and the Herd’s offense took over at its own 19-yard line.
But both teams continued to struggle offensively and after an array of punts, the third quarter came to a close with Marshall still holding onto a 7-0 lead.
The Herd’s offense got going in the fourth quarter and after a 9-play, 62-yard drive that took 4:04 off the clock, Litton found the end zone with his feet from 14 yards out to extend the Marshall lead up to 14-0 with 7:03 to go in the game.
Marshall’s defense continued to shut down the Golden Flashes’ offense and forced a turnover on downs after Damien Dozier sacked quarterback Dustin Crum on fourth down.
The Herd offense added one final touchdown behind the running of Tyler King and King broke free for a 29-yard touchdown run to give Marshall a 21-0 advantage with 1:08 remaining in the game. That score held and the Herd walked away with the shutout victory over Kent State.
Litton finished 23 for 43 for 223 yards and one touchdown with one interception for Marshall and added one rushing touchdown as well. King led the Herd on the ground with 14 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown in his collegiate debut after not being healthy the first two weeks of the season.
Williams led all Herd receivers with eight receptions for 79 yards and one touchdown while Tyre Brady added five receptions for 71 yards as well.
Chase Hancock led Marshall’s stellar defensive attack with 11 total tackles and Ryan Bee had a big game as well with 10 total tackles, two sacks, and two tackles-for-loss.
Between Bollas and Crum, Kent State’s passing attack finished 7 for 17 for 117 yards and one interception while its rushing attack accounted for 142 yards on the night, but only a 3.2 yards-per-carry average. Marshall’s offense accounted for 381 total yards while the defense held the Golden Flashes to only 259 total yards.
The Herd has a much-needed bye week upcoming before a road game at Cincinnati on Sept. 30 to close out non-conference play. Kent State returns to action Sept. 23 at Louisville.