It’s A Match

Published 3:40 am Friday, November 13, 2009

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It’s a match made in statistics.

The numbers make for an interesting match up as the Marshall Thundering Herd hosts the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in a key Conference USA game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

“They have weapons, but we match up very well. There are two very evenly matched football teams,” said Herd head coach Mark Snyder.

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Both teams are 5-4 overall and 3-2 in C-USA. They are also looking for a sixth win to become bowl eligible.

Marshall boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the conference while Southern Miss averages 33.9 points per game, second in the league behind high-powered Houston. The Herd has given up 21 points per game and just 15 in each league contest.

“They are running the ball extremely well. They are very balanced on offense and they have the ability to score a lot of points,” said Snyder.

And, of course, there are the running backs who rank as the top two backs in the conference.

The Eagles are led by Damion Fletcher, the school’s all-time leading rusher who is averaging 91.8 yards per game. Marshall not only leads C-USA with 129 yards per game, he is fifth nationally.

“They’re a very tough team. I expect them to come in here and try to run the ball,” said Snyder.

“We know all about Damion Fletcher. They have DeAndre Brown at wideout. He is their big guy, their flash guy, their speed guy. Gerald Baptiste is the guy who has been Mr. Steady the past couple of years we’ve played them.”

The Herd defense was able to hold Fletcher in check last year.

Added to the offensive mix is quarterback Martevious Young (6-1, 188).

Another similarity between the programs is the play of their special teams. Marshall is a kick return threat for the Herd any time he touches the ball, but Snyder said the Eagles “have been very dangerous with their return teams.”

Saturday marks the 39th anniversary of the 1970 plane crash at Huntington’s Tri-State Airport that killed all 75 persons on board as Marshall was returning from a game at East Carolina.

A memorial service will be held at noon at the Memorial Student Center Plaza. The water that flows through the memorial fountain will be turned off for the service that features keynote speaker Joe Gillette, a 1973 graduate of Marshall.