RALEIGH, N.C. — Marshall receiver Tyre Brady gave 10 defensive coordinators a headache-inducing highlight film, but he couldn’t beat North Carolina State all by himself.
Before 57,430 on a beautiful evening at Carter-Finley Stadium, Brady caught 11 passes for 248 yards and a long touchdown, but the Wolfpack still won 37-20.
Brady, whose status was questionable all week, gained more receiving yards in a game than anyone in the 51-year history of the stadium. But there were several problems that prevented a better result for the Thundering Herd.
For one thing, those 248 yards were more than half the Herd’s 451 total. And he gained 188 of those in the first half, including 75 on the TD catch and run.
If you look at it that way, it wasn’t a coincidence that Marshall scored all of its 20 points in the first half, a half in which the Herd led much of that time.
But there were other factors that kept the Herd blanked in the second half. The most visible were penalties, one which wiped out what could have been Keion Davis’ third kickoff-return touchdown in two games.
That holding call was followed by two fouls that helped to doom Marshall’s longest possession, one of 16 plays that consumed nearly eight minutes and lasted into the first few plays of the fourth quarter. That march ended in a missed field goal and kept the Wolfpack ahead 30-20.
That was Marshall’s last chance at engineering an upset.
“We got a touchdown called back for a damn penalty. We had too many penalties in the second half,” said Herd coach Doc Holliday. “They didn’t call any in the first half; in the second half it was way too many [six for 66 yards].
“We just had too many mistakes in the first half that took too many points off the board.”
Marshall (1-1) led 13-3 and 20-10, the latter score after Brady torched a single cornerback for his 75-yard TD. The play was simple to describe — he was all alone against a cornerback on the far sideline, took a pass from Chase Litton, shook that cornerback’s tackle and outran everybody else.
“It was ‘manned up’; they put us on an island,” Brady said. “Chase and I recognized it, and that was just chemistry. He threw a beautiful pass and I took it from there.”
After the Wolfpack (1-1) scored first on a Carson Wise 31-yard field goal, Brady caught four passes for 74 yards in the Herd’s first seven plays. That set up Litton’s 1-yard pass to Willie Johnson, a call that was made after the replay booth overturned an incomplete call.
The Herd took a 10-3 lead on Kaare Vedvik’s 33-yard field goal, then a 13-3 lead on Vedvik’s 45-yarder. The latter score was set up by Brady’s 38-yard catch down the sideline against single coverage.
The Wolfpack closed the margin to 13-10 on Stephen Louis’ 24-yard pass from Ryan Finley, as Louis bounced off two tacklers. Litton and Brady fired back on the Herd’s very first snap with the 75-yarder.
The Wolfpack owned the last 5:07 of the half, scoring on Finley passes of 39 yards to Jaylen Samuels on a flea-flicker, and 34 to Kelvin Harmon to take a 23-20 lead. Then the Wolfpack got the ball to start the second half and drove 70 yards in 13 plays for a 30-20 lead, finishing on Reggie Gallaspy’s fourth-and-goal run from the 1.
“Unfortunately, we’ve got to get our eyes right at times,” Holliday said. “We gave up a couple of big plays that we shouldn’t, because we didn’t have our eyes right.”
Davis took the subsequent kickoff 94 yards to the other end, but the play was doomed by C.J. Reavis’ holding foul on the back side of the return. Marshall started back at its 15-yard line and overcame a first-and-20 caused by another holding foul to mount a serious drive.
The Herd got to the Wolfpack 24-yard line, and Davis ran it 6 more for a first down. But center Levi Brown was called for a personal foul (hands to the face), which moved the ball back to the 32. The Herd still had a fresh set of downs, but only gained 3 yards and had to attempt a 46-yard field goal.
That failed, as Vedvik’s kick went wide left after a snap that skirted the ground. That was it for the Herd, and a Trey Rodriguez fumble led to the Wolfpack’s final TD, a Gallaspy 23-yard run with 3:58 left.
Finley finished 29 of 36 for 341 yards and three touchdowns, while Litton was 26 of 43 for 350 yards and two scores — and the promise of a dynamite pitch-and-catch combo MU’s next 10 opponents must face.
“You have to hand it to Marshall, especially Tyre Brady the receiver,” said Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren. “I thought he was an outstanding player. We didn’t defend him well, but I thought our adjustments were solid in the second half.
“It was a good football game and I’m proud of the way we finished it.”
The previous stadium record for receiving yardage was 217 by NC State’s Jerricho Cotchery in 2003. The former record for Wolfpack opponents was 194, set in 1986 by Wake Forest’s James Brim.
Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougsmock and read his blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/dougsmock.