RUSTON, La. – Brenden Knox rushed for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Marshall to a 35-17 win over Louisiana Tech before 7,140 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday night.
The difference in the game was on third down as Marshall converted 13 of 16 while controlling the clock for over 35 minutes while the Bulldogs managed to convert just 1-of-10.
“They have a really good football team,” said LA Tech coach Skip Holtz. “I was proud of the way the defense competed, but we’ve got to clean up the mistakes. But, if you look at this game, our woes are on offense.”
Tech rushed 24 times in the game for a total of seven yards and allowed six quarterback sacks.
“We can’t run the ball, and we can’t protect our quarterback,” said Holtz. “Tonight and last week are two poor performances, and we’re not a very good offensive football team right now. That starts with me. I have to do a better job.”
The Bulldogs defense played well enough to give itself a chance, but the inability to get stops on third down proved costly.
Knox was a workhorse for the Thundering Herd, totaling the 125 yards on the ground on 32 rush attempts. He also added one catch for 13 yards. The 32 carries were the most by an opposing running back since Anthony Wales (WKU) toted the ball 36 times against the Bulldogs in the 2016 Conference USA championship game.
When Knox wasn’t controlling the clock on the ground, redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells was highly efficient through the air. Wells completed 19-of-24 passes for 227 yards and two TDs and ran six times for 27 yards and another score.
“He threw the ball very efficiently tonight,” said Holtz. “They were 13-of-16 on third down tonight. He was very efficient. If you’ve got to get all your secondary involved to stop the zone schemes, (it’s not good). They were very efficient on third down.
“We’ve got to get more pressure on the quarterback. We gave up the last touchdown in three deep. We’re trying to make it as simple as we can. Before you can start to go after quarterbacks, you’ve got to be confident that you can cover.”
In a game that was decided by three scores, it was the final sequence of the first half that changed the momentum of the night. With Marshall leading 14-3, Tech drove the ball 78 yards on 12 plays over the final 1:57.
Facing a second and goal on the one-yard line with just six seconds remaining and no timeouts, the Bulldogs opted to run a smash play for Justin Henderson. The Thundering Herd defense – which tallied nine tackles for loss in the game – stuffed the play as the final seconds ticked off the clock and Marshall took an 11-point advantage and the momentum into the locker room.
A Knox 7-yard TD run midway through the third quarter upped the Marshall advantage to 21-3 before Luke Anthony connected with Adrian Hardy for a 12-yard completion for a score to cut the deficit to 21-10. Hardy led the Tech receivers with nine receptions for 102 yards and one score.
After Marshall added two more TDs, Aaron Allen hit Isaiah Graham with a 9-yard scoring strike with 36 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.
Linebacker Trey Baldwin had a career night, recording 16 tackles in the contest while Tyler Grubbs added nine tackles and Maki Carabin chipped in with eight tackles.
Tech returns to action Saturday when it travels to UTSA to face the Roadrunners.