The Thundering Herd of Marshall continued its postseason success Thursday with a convincing 38-20 win over the South Florida Bulls in the 2018 edition of the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in front of an announced attendance of 14,135 fans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Marshall (9-4) never trailed against USF (7-6) in a game that proved to be the most complete team effort of the 2018 season for Doc Holliday’s team, which extends the Herd’s current FBS-best bowl winning streak to seven straight as well as its FBS-best bowl winning percentage to 85.7 percent (12-2 all-time).
The scoring got started mid-way through the first quarter when the Herd capped off a 7-play, 81-yard drive with quarterback Isaiah Green’s first career rushing touchdown from 10 yards out to give Marshall a 7-0 lead with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Marshall’s defense made its presence felt on the ensuing USF offensive possession when the Herd’s Darius Hodge returned a fumble all the way to the Bulls’ 1-yard line. And on the next play, Anthony Anderson punched it in the end zone to extend the Herd’s lead to 14-0 with 4:43 to go in the first quarter.
USF’s offense woke up on its next possession when a trick play led to a Tyre McCants to Randall St. Felix 38-yard touchdown to cut the Marshall lead down to 14-7 with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter. The Herd’s offense was up to the challenge in responding to that Bulls touchdown, however.
On the next drive, Brenden Knox found the end zone from 8 yards out to extend the Marshall lead to 21-7 with just 25 seconds to go in the first quarter. The scoring slowed down throughout the second quarter, but Marshall capitalized on great special teams play with a 3-play, 17-yard drive that was capped off with a Keion Davis 5-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 28-7 with 1:30 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bulls would tack on a Coby Weiss 22-yard field goal with 4 seconds before halftime to set the halftime score at 28-10 in favor of the Herd. USF began the second half with the ball and added another Weiss field goal, this time from 31 yards out, to cut the lead to 28-13 with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Marshall answered right back with a field goal of its own when Justin Rohrwasser connected on a 28-yard field goal to extend the Herd’s lead back up to 18 at 31-13 with 5:19 to go in the third quarter. USF’s offense continued to click on its next possession when Blake Barnett connected with St. Felix for a 33-yard touchdown to cut the lead down to 31-20 at the 3:16 mark of the third quarter.
The Herd would go on what became the game-clinching, 11-play, 64-yard drive that took 5:47 off of the clock and it would be capped off with another Davis touchdown run, this time from 16 yards out, to extend the Marshall lead to 38-20 with 6:24 remaining in the game. The Herd’s defense shut down the USF offense from that point and Marshall closed out the impressive 38-20 win.
Green completed 17 of 25 pass attempts for 221 yards with a rushing touchdown for the Herd. Marshall’s rushing attack amassed 282 yards on the night, 94 of which came from Davis on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Knox, who missed the entire second half due to an injury late in the first half, finished with 12 carries for 93 yards and one touchdown. Anderson also chipped in 43 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Tyre Brady led all Marshall receivers with five receptions for 88 yards and Frankie Hernandez led the Herd in tackles with eight total tackles and five solo tackles. Channing Hames, the 2017 New Mexico Bowl Defensive MVP, also added four total tackles, two sacks, and two tackles-for-loss.
Marshall’s bowl success keeps on rolling and win number nine overall is the most wins in a season since winning 10 games in 2015. The Herd has won eight or more games in five of the past six seasons. USF finishes the season with six straight losses after a 7-0 start to the season.
In an era where many question the importance of bowl games, Marshall takes them seriously and makes the most out of the opportunity. The Herd will look to build on a stellar finish to the 2018 season in 2019 and compete for its first C-USA Championship since 2014.