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Herd seniors want final home game to remember

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It’s the final home game for the Marshall seniors, but they could add an extra game with a win.

Senior Day could bring a bonus if the Thundering Herd beats the Southern Methodist Mustangs in a Conference USA game set to kick off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Marshall is 5-5 and would become bowl eligible with a win over the Mustangs who lead the C-USA West Division under coach June Jones who left a successful program at Hawaii to take over at SMU this season.

A total of 15 seniors say good-bye to Joan C. Edwards Stadium including tight end Cody Slate who was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Not included in the senior group is wide receiver Courtney Edmonson was injured in the opener and will apply for a medical red-shirt year.

“(The seniors) spoke at length on Sunday about doing something around here that hasn’t been done in a while (go to a bowl). I think our guys will be ready to roll come Saturday,” said Marshall coach Mark Snyder.

In order to go to a bowl, Marshall must beat the high-powered Mustangs who are 6-4 overall but 5-1 in the West Division.

The Herd is 3-3 in the East Division and all three losses have been by a total of seven points or less. Marshall closes out the season at UTEP, another West Division team.

SMU is led by quarterback B.L. Mitchell who has completed 56 percent of his passes. Mitchell is 149 of 266 for 1,725 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has suffered 10 picks.

Six different players have double digit receptions led by Emmanuel Sanders with 77 catches for 977 yards and five TDs.

Running back Shawn McNeal has 896 yards rushing on 178 carries for a 5.0 average. He has six scores.

“(Jones) doesn’t have all of his pieces in place yet, but you will see a variation of the run and shoot offense,” said Snyder. “But it’s not all there yet like he had it at Hawaii. It will take him some time, but he is well on his way.”

The defense is spearheaded by Chase Kennemer with 104 tackles and Chris Banjo with 67. Rock Dennis not only had 47 tackles, he leads the team with four interceptions. Bryan McCann has three picks for a defense with 16 interceptions as a team.

“They create a lot of turnovers. They have 25 total turnovers and 16 interceptions have to be up there in the country somewhere,” said Snyder.

“They do a lot of moving. They are never static. They are not the biggest in the world, not like anything we have faced in the last three weeks. They know where their strength and weaknesses are.”

Marshall has improved defensively all season and the offense has been balanced. But the loss of Slate and Darius Marshall — one of the nation’s top running backs — could put a lot of pressure on sophomore quarterback Brian Anderson.

Marshall’s place in the backfield will fall to Terrell Edwards-Maye.

“Terrell went down with me last week with the two (offense) going against our defense. He was (Damion Fletcher) for Southern Miss. He got a shot in the game, went in and produced,” said Snyder.

Aaron Dobson stepped in at wide receiver for the Herd and caught three passes for 52 yards and a score. Antavious Wilson had 13 catches for 153 yards.

NOTES: Fans who buy two tickets to Saturday’s game get a third ticket free. Call 1-800-THE-HERD for more information … The first 3,000 fans at the game will receive a free Marshall football seniors photo courtesy of Aaron’s Business Solutions. The first 1,000 youths ages 12-and-under get a 10-pack of trading cards of Herd players courtesy of Wal-Mart.