Streaking Herd hosts improving Golden Knights in MAC matchup

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Two teams going in opposite directions are about to meet head-on.

The Marshall Thundering Herd, riding a four-game winning streak, hosts winless Central Florida at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

After starting the season 0-3, the Herd has beaten four Mid-American Conference opponents and leads the East Division at 4-0.

Email newsletter signup

The Golden Knights are moving in a downward spiral at 0-7 and 0-4 in the East Division.

"We are improving in some areas and stepping back in some areas. I see the players still with strong effort," Knights head coach George O'Leary said.

"We're not taking advantage of certain situations. You can't come out of the red zone without any points."

However, there may be a flicker of hope for UCF as it faces the tenacious defense of the Herd led by defensive end Jonathan Goddard.

Knights quarterback Stephen Moffett ranks ninth in the MAC in total offense with 196.3 yards per game. Moffett has hit 101 of 155 attempts for 1,123 yards and five touchdowns.

Running back Alex Haynes has rushed for 86.4 yards per game with three TDs. He missed the Knights last game but will return against Marshall.

"I think the running game missed Alex Haynes. It's very evident," O'Leary said. "He makes our linemen better because he makes people miss. He breaks a lot of tackles. The play only gets 2 or 3 yards, but with Alex he gets 6 or 7 yards. It's good to get him back this week."

Marshall's defensive surge is fueled by Goddard, the Lombardi Award semifinalist who leads the nation in sacks (10.5) and ranks among the leaders in tackles for a loss (16.5), forced fumbles (5) and defensive touchdowns (2).

"He's a great pass rusher and he plays with a lot of intensity," O'Leary said. "We're aware of where he is at on the field. I think he is a guy that has a lot of speed, and he has given every team I've seen on film a lot of problems."

Marshall is beginning to find its offense, too. Last week the Herd crushed Buffalo 48-14 as quarterback Stan Hill

was 19 of 26 for 269 yards and four TDs.

Wide receiver Josh Davis is heading for the Herd record books. Davis needs nine catches to break the Marshall and MAC mark for receptions (272).

While this is the final meeting for the two teams in the MAC, it is not the last clash. Both teams enter Conference USA next season.