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Marshall looks to stay atop C-USA overall standings

Herd faces off with West-leading LA Tech

HUNTINGTON — Fresh off an emphatic 38-14 win on the road against Western Kentucky, Marshall looks to stay atop the conference with another win on the road at Louisiana Tech. The 6 p.m. Saturday kickoff is sure to contain some of Conference USA’s best action of the year, as the Herd (3-0, 1-0 C-USA East) and the Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0 C-USA West) could collide again in a potential C-USA title game on December 18.

That date is still a bit more than two months away, but we’re already seeing key contributors in midseason form. In what is still a weekly mention, Marshall’s Brenden Knox had another big day against the Hilltoppers. The junior tailback scurried for 107 yards and a career-high three scores in the victory, as head coach Doc Holliday talked about his performance following the win on Saturday.

“That’s just who he is. That’s just the way he plays,” Holliday said of his leading rusher. “He was the MVP of the league a year ago, because he’s just great. You know what you’re going to get out of him every week. He’s a tough kid who loves to play. I though about Sheldon Evans, he’s our captain going on two, three weeks in a row. He gave us a boost as well, at tailback. I love what those kids are all about. We have a good 1-2 punch going on right now, and we’ve got to give our offensive line credit. Those guys did a nice job of opening that hole there, and Brenden was able to run though that.”

Skip Holtz’s Bulldogs enter this contest after getting the job done against UTEP in a 21-17 final. Efficient rushing performances from Justin Henderson (15 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown) and Israel Tucker (16 carries for 47 yards and two scores) did just enough to get the Bulldogs the win.

Redshirt senior LB Ezekiel Barnett led his team with 10 tackles on the night, as the Tech defense only allowed ten points from scrimmage. That defensive importance is key when Marshall QB Grant Wells is protected by a senior-heavy offensive line. He also found wideout Broc Thompson for four catches and a team-high 94 yards. As for Wells himself, the freshman continues to not turn the ball over. While the numbers don’t jump off a box score, he’s done enough to keep Marshall rolling along. However, one of coach Holliday’s biggest concerns in his Tuesday pre-game press conference was the amount of traveling his team is doing in the age of COVID-19.

“We’ve got another road trip coming up here, and with everything going on right now, the road trips are becoming even more complicated,” he said. “It’s tough to travel with these conditions we’re under right now. Our kids have got to do another great job this week, as far as the way we travel, the way we attack the visiting hotel. Leadership is so important when you go on the road, as well as toughness. I thought we handled that well a week ago, and we’ve got to do the same thing this week.”

Holliday praised Holtz and Louisiana Tech for how they prepare each week, as Holtz was similarly complimentary to the Herd in his pre-game press conference.

“We’ve got great respect for Doc and the work he’s done there. We’ve got No. 1 in the East and No. 1 in the West facing off this early in the season. It’s got all the billing to be a great game,” Holtz said. “Marshall is a great team on both sides of the ball, when you look at them statistically. They are top-2 in the league in almost every category, offensively and defensively. This is a very physical, experienced and fundamental football team.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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