Michael Clark


MCGILL: Woodson, Opportunistic Defense Key Akron Win

Sept. 17, 2016

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By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- In the wake of Saturday's 65-38 loss to visiting Akron, the Marshall University football team started to eye the next challenge: Louisville.

The first task, however, is to move past the loss to the Zips.

"Go forward," said Ryan Yurachek, MU's junior tight end. "There's no more you can do. This is a game; it's behind us. You've got to flush it down the toilet.

"You saw the score of the Louisville game. We probably have one of the top three teams in the country coming in here next week. You've got to go back to work."

Indeed, the No. 10 Cardinals will likely vault into the top five after their 63-20 win against No. 2 Florida State on Saturday. The Associated Press Top 25 poll will be released Sunday, and where Louisville ranks could have historic implications for the Herd. The highest-ranked team to ever visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium was No. 3 West Virginia in 2007.

"We've got probably the first or second ranked team in America coming in here Saturday after what they did to Florida State," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "That'll be a great challenge for us.

"We don't have time to lick our wounds."

Marshall had its eight-game home winning streak snapped Saturday. The Herd had won 21 of its last 22 home games with the only blemish coming by one point to Western Kentucky in 2014.

The Thundering Herd (1-1) had the ball and a 21-7 lead when sophomore quarterback Chase Litton was hit in the pocket by Akron's Daumantaus Venckus. Litton tried to cover the ball as he fell toward the turf, but the officials' replay ruled the ball had started to come loose before Litton was driven to the turf. Venckus picked up the loose ball and raced 35 yards for a touchdown.

The momentum shifted there. The Zips (2-1) scored 34 unanswered points -- all in the second quarter. An opposing team hadn't scored a touchdown in the second quarter at the Joan in six games, but Akron scored five times in span of 12:40 in the quarter.

Holliday said that play shifted momentum, but the Herd still had a one-touchdown lead and the ball. Not much went Marshall's way from there.

The Herd outgained the Zips 560-524, but Marshall committed four turnovers. Akron scored on a fumble return, punt block return and interception return. The Herd had 17 penalties for 180 yards -- the most penalties by a Marshall team since a 2014 visit to Akron (20 flags for 188 yards).

"It's obvious we didn't play well," Holliday said. "You've got to get Akron credit."

Statistically, Litton had his second career 400-yard game (413) and third career four-touchdown game. He completed 32 passes in a career-high 57 attempts, and it was his first career three-interception game.

Litton completed passes to 12 different receivers, led by a seven-reception, 118-yard, two-touchdown performance by Josh Knight. Entering the game, Knight had six career catches for 81 yards and zero touchdowns.

MU tight end Ryan Yurachek added five catches for 65 yards -- and his nation-leading streak of six consecutive games with a touchdown came to an end. Receivers Deon-Tay McManus and Michael Clark each caught a touchdown for the second consecutive game. Running back Keion Davis scored his third career rushing touchdown -- his first of the season -- and caught a career-high four passes for a career-best 52 yards.

On defense, linebacker Chase Hancock led the Herd with eight tackles and combined with Gary Thompson for his first career sack.

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