Charlotte to host Herd

Marshall up next for Niners in Queen City

| October 7, 2017

Benny Lemay looks to cut upfield after taking a handoff. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers have a tall task ahead of them on Saturday, as they will host the Marshall Thundering Herd in their second conference matchup. The Herd, who have multiple connections to the 49ers, are red hot at the moment, but lost to Charlotte last season on their home field, 27-24. Charlotte is still searching for their first win of the year and is hoping they can duplicate their performance from last year.

Red Hot Herd

Marshall is on fire right now, and they’re coming off a big 38-21 road win against the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Herd come into Saturday’s matchup with a record of 3-1. Their last trip to North Carolina didn’t go so well; the team’s only loss this season came at NC State, 37-20, who’s surprised the nation so far and is now ranked. Save for that one game, however, Marshall is on a roll.

Junior quarterback Chase Litton has had a stellar career so far for Marshall. Litton has passed for a touchdown in 25 career straight games, which is second in the nation behind Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (31 straight games), according to Marshall’s athletic website. Litton has passed for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season, and threw for 233 yards, four touchdowns and no picks against the Bearcats. He has completed exactly 90 of his 150 pass attempts this season (60 percent) and only has three interceptions. His offensive line has been amazing this year, as Litton has only been sacked twice for 19 yards the entire year. Needless to say, Marshall’s ability to attack through the air is an advantage.

The beneficiaries of Litton’s strong play have been his receivers. Tyre Brady has caught 23 passes for 407 yards and two scores thus far, and Marcel Williams has caught 22 passes for 212 yards and a score. Willie Johnson follows with 16 receptions for 181 yards and two scores, and tight end Ryan Yurachek has 14 catches for 133 yards. Yurachek had three touchdown receptions against the Bearcats, so all four players will be on Charlotte’s radar.

Keion Davis, a junior running back, is a multipurpose threat for the Herd. Against Cincinnati, he rushed for 93 yards, had 25 receiving yards and picked up another 38 on kick returns. He might have the ball in his hands the most against Charlotte, and it will be imperative for them to effectively stifle all offensive playmakers.

As a unit, the Herd are very efficient. They average 27.5 points a game and surrender 21, and they are lethal in the redzone. According to statistics, the Herd are 9-11 (82 percent) in the redzone, and six of those nine scores have been touchdowns. They also get off to quick starts, which will be key for Charlotte to pay attention to. Of the 110 points they’ve scored this season, Marshall has scored 24 of them in the first quarter while holding their opponents to six, and racked up 48 more points in the second quarter.

Keys for Charlotte

Charlotte needs a win– badly. They’ve started off the season 0-5, and have been in some tight ones. They came close again last week against FIU, but the team squandered a 26-14 halftime lead and were outscored 16-3 in the second half to fall short, 30-29. On the bright side, the team has finally found its offense after former Marshall player and coach Greg Adkins was moved to offensive coordinator; the most important thing will be to get off to a good start against Marshall.

Hasaan Klugh finally found his footing against FIU, as the redshirt junior threw for 155 yards and a score and rushed for 107 yards and three scores. Running back Benny LeMay rushed for 178 yards and caught Klugh’s lone touchdown pass. Meanwhile, backup tailback Aaron McAllister also contributed 64 yards on 12 carries. On defense, Karrington King and Jeff Gemmell once again led the way with eight tackles. Tyriq Harris and Juwan Foggie followed with seven apiece. However, the defense couldn’t get stops in the second half, as FIU scored one touchdown in the third quarter, one more in the fourth, and tacked on what would be the game winning field goal.

The thing Charlotte will need the most is consistency. This unit has shown remarkable resiliency, like during their 18-point comeback against NC A&T, and has had moments where its offense is clicking (such as the first half against FIU). However, when the Niners have struggled, it has resulted in the defense staying on the field for too long, the offense struggling to move the ball, and everyone leaving the field unhappy. The truth is, this year’s squad is very young, and still has to learn how to win. However, learning how to lose is a part of that process.

Last week’s loss showed how close Charlotte is to victory. If the team can get off to an explosive start, it will pay dividends. The defense just needs to contain Litton; he’s a player who will rack up numbers regardless, as will Keion Davis. If the Niners can minimize the big, back-breaking plays and be solid, they’ll give themselves a chance to win at the end.

This game will probably not be a blowout; Charlotte is desperate for a win, and the Marshall game is always an emotional one. The stories about the schools’ connections, between coaches Brad Lambert and Marshall alums Phil Ratliff and Greg Adkins, are well documented. If the Niners can keep the game close like last season’s contest, it can result in a huge win that will give them momentum and change the direction of this season.

The game against the Thundering Herd will kickoff Saturday at 6pm at Richardson Stadium and will be broadcast on WCCB.

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Category:Football, Sports

Zach Timmons Zach Timmons, better known as ZT, is a junior at UNC Charlotte. He is an English major and is also minoring in journalism. In his free time, ZT enjoys writing spoken word poetry, drawing, and making beats.

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Zach Timmons Zach Timmons, better known as ZT, is a junior at UNC Charlotte. He is an English major and is also minoring in journalism. In his free time, ZT enjoys writing spoken word poetry, drawing, and making beats.