Herd hammers Eastern Kentucky, 59-0


By Bryan Walters - bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com



Marshall quarterback Grant Wells rifles a pass downfield during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va.

Marshall quarterback Grant Wells rifles a pass downfield during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va.


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall defensive lineman Jamare Edwards (99) tries to deflect a pass attempt during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va.


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall tight end Xavier Gaines (11) hauls in a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon's season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall wide receiver Talik Keaton (9) hauls in a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon's season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall tight end Garet Morrell (12) breaks away for extra yardage after a catch during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon's season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)


Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — All was well with Wells in the end.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells made his first collegiate start look pretty easy after completing 16-of-23 passes for 307 yards and four scores Saturday afternoon during a 59-0 drubbing of Eastern Kentucky in the season opener for both programs at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

Wells — a product of George Washington High School in Charleston — connected on his first eight pass attempts, which resulted in 176 yards and a pair of scores while helping the Thundering Herd (1-0) build a 21-0 first quarter lead.

Wells tacked on two more touchdown passes in the second canto and entered halftime with 280 passing yards, all while leading MU to a commanding 38-0 cushion at the break.

The Green and White added their second and third rushing scores of the day — all by different backs — during a third quarter that saw the hosts increase the lead out to 52-0 headed into the finale.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Zban replaced Wells in the fourth and went a perfect 6-for-6 passing in his collegiate debut, which included a 3-yard touchdown pass to Amir Richardson with 4:02 left in regulation that wrapped up the 59-point outcome.

It was the largest margin of victory for Marshall in a season opener since defeating Morgan State 62-0 back in 2016. The Herd has now won 10 straight season openers and improved to 12-8-1 overall against EKU following their fourth consecutive triumph.

The 307 passing yards by Wells ended up being a new school record for any MU quarterback in his debut performance. His four touchdowns also put him in a 3-way tie atop the record books in a debut.

Marshall scored touchdowns on its first four drives and ended up coming away with points on all but two of its 11 offensive possessions in the game. Those scoreless drives also ended the first half and fourth quarter.

Wells found Xavier Gaines on a 22-yard pass with 12:19 showing on the first quarter clock to establish a permanent lead of 7-0, then Brenden Knox added an 8-yard scamper with 8:04 remaining for a 14-point cushion.

Wells connected with Talik Keaton on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 2:01 left in the opening canto for a 21-0 edge.

Grant Morrell hauled in a 2-yard scoring pass from Wells with 10:02 left in the half, then Shane Ciucci nailed a 23-yard field goal at the 6:07 mark for a 31-point advantage.

Jaron Woodyard hauled in a 42-yard bomb from Wells with 3:07 remaining for a comfortable 38-0 cushion entering the break.

Sheldon Evans and Lawrence Papillion added touchdown runs of six and 13 yards, respectively, during the third stanza, giving the Herd a 52-0 lead entering the finale.

Marshall did not punt the ball once in the contest and finished the game with a 34-7 advantage in first downs. The Herd outgained the Colonels by a 627-166 overall margin in total yards, including a 282-86 edge on the ground.

MU finished the day plus-1 in turnover differential as Nazeeh Johnson picked off a pass late in the first quarter.

Knowledge McDaniel led the Marshall rushing attack with 93 yards on 14 carries, followed by Knox with 85 yards on 18 attempts.

Broc Thompson led the wideouts with five catches for 67 yards. Thirteen different Herd receivers caught at least one pass.

Tavante Beckett and Eli Neal led the MU defense with eight tackles apiece.

Quentin Pringle led EKU with 39 rushing yards on six carries. Parker McKinney went 7-of-10 passing for 71 yards and threw and interception. Jacquez Jones hauled in four passes for nine yards.

Marshall has a bye week and returns to action Saturday, Sept. 19, when it welcomes Appalachian State for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.

© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

Marshall quarterback Grant Wells rifles a pass downfield during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2020/09/web1_MU-Wells.jpgMarshall quarterback Grant Wells rifles a pass downfield during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall defensive lineman Jamare Edwards (99) tries to deflect a pass attempt during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2020/09/web1_MU-Edwards.jpgMarshall defensive lineman Jamare Edwards (99) tries to deflect a pass attempt during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall tight end Xavier Gaines (11) hauls in a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2020/09/web1_MU-Gaines.jpgMarshall tight end Xavier Gaines (11) hauls in a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall wide receiver Talik Keaton (9) hauls in a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2020/09/web1_MU-Keaton.jpgMarshall wide receiver Talik Keaton (9) hauls in a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Marshall tight end Garet Morrell (12) breaks away for extra yardage after a catch during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2020/09/web1_MU-Morrell.jpgMarshall tight end Garet Morrell (12) breaks away for extra yardage after a catch during the first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s season-opening football game against Eastern Kentucky in Huntington, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

By Bryan Walters

bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.