HUNTINGTON — Apparently, Tyler King made an substantial impact on his Marshall teammates before he actually made his college debut.
Just ask one of the leaders of the Thundering Herd, quarterback Chase Litton.
“You guys weren’t in there for halftime when we’re all sitting there, we’re quiet and we need the juice and Tyler King stepped up,” Litton said after the Thundering Herd’s 21-0 win Saturday over Kent State. “He hadn’t played a snap the whole first half, and he comes in loud, he was vocal and he said, ‘You cannot be sit here and be accepting of this. This isn’t Marshall football.’”
King, who has recovered from an infection that put him out of practice a few weeks, finally appeared the the backfield in Marshall’s first possession of the second half. His first two carries were nothing special, going for 1 and zero yards. He also caught a pass for 8.
At the end of three quarters, the Herd had just 39 yards on 19 carries, continuing the struggles in that category. But King’s first two carries went for 21 and 15 yards, and the Herd was in business.
That possession didn’t end in a score, but the next one did. King had a small part in that 62-yard drive, carrying for 8 yards on a second-and-10.
On the Herd’s last possession, it was all King, carrying for 7, 6, 8, 4, 1, 5 and 29 yards. The last carry put the Herd up 21-0 with 1:08 left, and gave King 101 yards on 14 carries.
King, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Fort Meade, Florida, sat out last year as a nonqualifier and has entered the program as enthusiastic as anyone.
“Being away from football for a whole year, and to come out and have a game like that, I really appreciated the whole coaching staff, the strength and conditioning [staff], Marshall University for giving me this opportunity,” he said. “So this is my second chance — I believed in them, they believed in me, we’re coming together as a team.”
When Chase Litton threw 5 yards to Marcel Williams for a touchdown late in the first half, it extended his streak with a TD pass to 24 games. But that wasn’t the important thing.
Marshall took a 7-0 lead in an otherwise poor offensive half.
“It was a grind-it-out game, and we didn’t play great. But to get that ball in the end zone at the end of the half was huge.
Ryan Yurachek caught four passes for 24 yards, extending his streak of games with at least one reception to 32.
Marshall will use the upcoming open week to get healthier. Nowhere will that be more important than on the offensive line which missed the starting left side.
Left tackle Sandley Jean-Felix was out, and left guard Jordan Dowrey missed his first game, in a technical sense. But Dowrey left in Marshall’s first possession last week at North Carolina State, so redshirt freshman Alex Mollette has played essentially two whole games.
A.J. Addison replaced Jean-Felix in the starting lineup, sharing duties with another redshirt freshman, Will Ulmer. With Tarik Adams the starting right tackle, that meant the Herd had three freshmen on the line at times.
Levi Brown, himself just a sophomore, gave the youngsters a thumbs-up. Marshall had trouble running, but gave up no sacks and allowed Litton time to throw.
“We’ve confidence in all three of them,” Brown said. “Being able to play that many snaps is good. No really bad mess-ups by any of the three freshmen. The only penalty we had was Mollette for holding, and I had a false start, which happens sometimes.”
- Marshall was 9 of 17 on third downs, improving its season mark to 22 of 45, 48.9 percent. “Seventeen is too many,” Litton said. “We’re putting ourselves in situations where it’s making it tougher on us, making it tougher on our staff to call plays.”
- Then there is the baffling delay of at least eight minutes, in which officials convened among themselves and with both head coaches (one at a time, of course). At the conclusion, both sides were called for a face-masking personal foul, and the penalties offset. Holliday said the officials did a fine job overall, but, “I’m still trying to figure out what the hell that was all about.”
- King became Marshall’s first 100-yard rusher of the year, and the first since Anthony Anderson ran for 109 last November against Middle Tennessee. That was Marshall’s only 100-yard effort of that season.
- Trey Rodriguez had a strange day of punt returning. He gained 20 yards on one runback, but he lost it all back on the other four attempts. Each time, he was tackled as he ran backwards in an attempt to reverse field.
- The telecast production was produced by Marshall, airing on Stadium in this market and streaming on CUSA.TV. The latter drew complaints on social media, as the feed froze right before Litton’s TD throw to Williams.
- The game time for Marshall’s Sept. 30 game at Cincinnati has not been set. That should happen Monday.