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Marshall outscores Blazers, 46-39

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — One might think that having two teams with identical 2-9 records play each other in the season final would seem pointless.

Just the opposite was true.

In the highest-scoring game of the season for Marshall, the Thundering Herd used a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bernard Morris with 1:07 to play and outlasted the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers 46-39 in a Conference USA game Saturday.

“A lot of great individual performances tonight,” said Herd head coach Mark Snyder. “We got some things squared away this week that we didn’t last week. There were a lot of positives.

“We didn’t have a losing season inside the Joan (Edwards Stadium). We kept that alive, which is beautiful.”

UA battled back from a 28-7 halftime deficit to take its first lead with 5:22 to play on a 4-yard run by Rashaud Slaughter.

But the Herd got the ball at its own 22 and used 11 plays and 4:15 of the clock to take the lead for good on Morris’ keeper.

“A touchdown is a touchdown,” said Snyder. “We tried to milk as much time off the clock as we could. I was a bit nervous, but we did a great job running time off the clock.”

The Blazers made one last attempt to tie the game with a drive from their own 35 to the Marshall 25.

But the Marshall secondary rose to the occasion by successfully defending four straight passes, the final incompletion knocked away by C.J. Spillman in the back of the end zone as the clock hit zero.

“The defense came together at the end,” said defensive back D.J. Wingate.

Morris, the Herd’s senior quarterback, closed out his career by completing 26 of 36 attempts for 309 yards and a touchdown while rushing 10 times for 55 yards and a score.

Morris became the eighth Marshall quarterback to pass for more than 2,000 yards in a single season.

“I think (Morris) has had a career senior year and that’s what you have to have, your seniors have to have career senior years in order to have specials seasons,” said Snyder.

“He definitely has that one this year. He’s got a (pro) career ahead of him.”

Antwan Booker led the Herd defense with 12 tackles. Cody Slate had six catches for 72 yards and Shawn Lauzon four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown.

Darius Marshall ran nine times for 60 yards and returned a third quarter kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.

“Coach been on me to make a big play on kickoff returns,” said Marshall. “I just wanted to contribute to the seniors. I dedicated this to the seniors.”

Both teams had their offenses turned to high-speed. The Herd racked up 486 total yards and UAB amassed 496.

“We knew our defense had to slow them down or stop them to have a chance,” said Blazers coach Neil Callaway. “We felt like we could move the ball and score points. We felt like we still had a chance to win this game.”

Kelvin Turner had a pair of 4-yard touchdown runs, Chubb Small ran 5 yards for a score and Shawn Lauzon caught a 23-yard TD pass as Marshall built its 28-7 halftime lead.

UAB’s Swayze Waters booted a 3-yard field goal to start the second half scoring. Sam Hunt threw 10 yards to Mario Wright for his second touchdown reception of the game and they teamed up on the conversion to make it 35-18.

Marshall returned the kickoff for a touchdown, but the Blazers came back to score on a 1-yard run by quarterback Joseph Webb and it was now 35-25.

The Blazers used a kick return of their own to score as Kevin Sanders ran back a punt 58 yards and the lead was sliced to 35-32.

Anthony Binswanger’s 21-yard field goal pushed the lead to 38-32, but UAB took the lead on Slaughter’s run.

“The fact we competed to the end was good. We got off to a bad start. Defensively we couldn’t slow them down,” said Callaway.

Marshall ends the season 3-9 and 3-5 in Conference USA. The Herd began the season 0-7 but won three of its last five games.

“I’m excited. I have to credit these seniors. They’re the transition group and they laid down the foundation,” said Snyder.

Alabama-Birmingham finished 2-10 and 1-7 in C-USA.

Ala-Birmingham701814=39

Marshall1414711=46

First Quarter

Mar — Kelvin Turner 4 run (Anthony Binswanger kick) 9:24

Mar — Chubb Small 5 run (Binswanger kick) 6:04

UAB — Mario Wright 11 pass from Joseph Webb (Swayze Waters kick) 3:03

Second Quarter

Mar — Turner 4 run (Binswanger kick) 2:20

Mar — Shawn Lauzon 23 pass from Bernard Morris (Binswanger kick) 1:05

Third Quarter

UAB — Waters 37 field goal 11:04

UAB — Wright 10 pass from Sam Hunt (Wright pass from Hunt) 4:33

Mar — Darius Marshall 91 kickoff return (Binswanger kick) 4:22

UAB — Webb 1 run (Waters kick) 0:29

Fourth Quarter

UAB — Kevin Sanders 58 punt return (Waters kick) 13:18

Mar — Binswanger 21 field goal 8:58

UAB — Rashaud Slaughter 4 run (Waters kick) 5:22

Mar — Bernard Morris 1 run (Cody Slate pass from Morris) 1:07

UABMar

First downs2427

Rushes-yards25-10733-177

Passing yards389309

Total yards496486

Cmp-Att-Int27-50-026-36-0

Fumbles-lost0-00-0

Penalties-yards6-628-71

Punts-average2-34.52-36.0

Time of Possession24:3835:22

Individual Leaders

RUSHING — UAB: Sam Hunt 8-64, Joseph Webb 12-52, Rashaud Slaughter 4-10, team 1-minus 18. Marshall: Darius Marshall 9-60, Bernard Morris 10-55, Chubb Small 6-32, Kelvin Turner 7-28, E.J. Wynn 1-2.

PASSING — UAB: Joseph Webb 14-26-0 200, Sam Hunt 13-24-0 189. Marshall: Bernard Morris 26-36-0 309.

RECEIVING — UAB: Frantrell Forrest 7-64, Jeffrey Anderson 5-94, Mario Wright 5-47, Jim Mitchell 4-56, Mike Jones 2-19, Nick Coon 1-42, David Sigler 1-31, Blake Thackston 1-24, Rashaud Slaughter 1-12. Marshall: Cody Slate 6-72, E.J. Wynn 5-37, Shawn Lauzon 4-58, Emmanuel Spann 4-44, Marcus Fitzgerald 2-47, Lee Smith 2-9, Darius Marshall 1-32, Brian Shope 1-7, Courtney Edmonson 1-3.