Written by Justin Prince.
For the first 15 minutes and 31 seconds of the Gildan New Mexico Bowl Marshall and Colorado State felt each other out.
Like two boxers circling each other in a ring, trying to size the other up, the two teams traded jabs but neither offense managed to land any power blows. That was until Marshall quarterback Chase Litton found a streaking Tyre Brady down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown.
It was the first of three huge haymakers the Herd offense would hit that left the Rams reeling, but not knocked out. After Colorado State managed to land a few big shots of its own, the Herd found themselves all tied up at 14 with 3:55 to play in the opening half. That’s when Marshall delivered its second heavy-handed haymaker, this time by way of a 68-yard run by Keion Davis that displayed both power and speed.
Davis’ run put the Thundering Herd up 21-14 at halftime and Marshall, which never trailed in the ball game, would never even see the score tied the rest of the way. Coming out of the locker-room, Marshall used a 10-0 third quarter to take a commanding lead into the final period. The highlight of the third quarter and perhaps the game was another monster haymaker delivered right into the gut of the Rams defense.
Freshman running back Tyler King took a hand off from Litton made a nifty move to get past a CSU defender and then was off to a foot race down the middle of the field. 90 yards latter King had the longest TD run in New Mexico Bowl history and the Herd had a two score cushion. Kicker Kaare Vedvik added a field goal about eight minutes later to finish off the scoring for Marshall.
But, Colorado State wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. The Rams were battered a bit but used a combination of offensive punches to push the Herd the distance. CSU quarterback Nick Stevens hooked up with Detrich Clark on a 24-yard dart to get the Rams within 10 with 12:55 to play.
After a couple of missed opportunities by both offenses, the Rams landed the next power punch a little over six minutes later to cut the Herd’s once commanding lead to just three, 31-28.
But, while it was the big hitters that put the Herd ahead on the scoreboard, it was the little jabs that kept Colorado State at bay and preserved Marshall’s sixth straight bowl victory.
With the game on the line and after a highlight reel snag by Michael Gallup the Rams All-American receiver the Marshall defense found itself facing a fourth and five with 1:46 left in the game. Stevens dropped backed, scanned the secondary and let go of a pass in Gallup’s direction but, the ball was batted right back into the hands of Stevens himself by Davon Durant and Stevens was immediately tackled for a one yard loss.
Marshall’s offense trotted back onto the field needing a first down to finally put the Rams away, but with two timeouts in their pocket, Colorado State still had a fighting chance.
Litton rolled to his right and hit the final jab the Herd needed, a floater to tight-end Ryan Yuracheck, for eight yards and the first down. Marshall took a knee on the next three plays and then celebrated the bowl victory and its eighth win of the season.
King and Davis both rushed for over 100 yards and Brady, the bowl game’s offensive MVP, reeled in six catches for 165 yards and the Marshall offense rolled up more than 500 yards for just the second time this season.
The Herd improved its all-time NCAA bowl record to 11-2 and head coach Doc Holliday moved to 5-0 all time in bowl games. Marshall is now on a six-game postseason winning streak, the longest in the FBS.