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Marshall’s Litton went from goat to hero vs. Kent State in 2015

AP photo
Marshall quarterback Chase Litton was making just his second start when the Herd visited Kent State in 2015.

HUNTINGTON — In one down two years ago at Kent State, then-freshman quarterback Chase Litton was the goat — and we’re not talking about the modern-day acronym that stands for “greatest of all time.”

We’re talking about the old sports term referring to the player who messes up and loses the game. In two downs of Marshall’s 2015 double-overtime win at Kent State, Litton covered the spectrum from “goat” to hero.

He can laugh about it these days.

Litton was starting his second game for the Thundering Herd, the first against a major-college opponent. He got his feet wet the week before against Norfolk State, but that was a romp. This time, he faced fourth-and-goal at the Kent 3-yard line with the Herd facing defeat.

“It came down to fourth down, I got flushed out of the pocket, Davonte [Allen] came back to me and he made a good play for us.”

That play kept the game alive, and Marshall easily won in the second overtime. When Litton was asked about the pass to Allen, he had to chuckle, for he nearly lost the game on an unforced fumble. Litton hurriedly recovered.

“Yeah, you remember the third-down play when I was going right, dropped the ball; I remember that one, too,” he said.

Two years later, the Herd and Golden Flashes (both 1-1) renew acquaintances at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The game airs on Stadium (Channel 125 on Suddenlink in the Kanawha Valley, channel 11-2 on antenna) and streams live on CUSA.TV.

Two years later Litton is one of only three current Herd starters to start in the 2015 game, along with tackle Sandley Jean-Felix and tight end Ryan Yurachek. Twelve on the current two-deep roster played in some capacity in the 2015 game.

Litton had a difficult game, going 14 of 36 for 151 yards and two touchdowns amd two interceptions. Yurachek led receivers with four catches for 58 yards and a 17-yard TD.

Tony Pittman, who scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime, remains on the team but has been passed on the depth chart. Keion Davis, who likely will start Saturday, had 8 yards on six carries in the 2015 game.

Kent State had four starters then who are listed as starters now — wide receivers Kris White and Johnny Woods, safety Erik Simpson and cornerback Demetrius Monday.

That doesn’t include quarterback Nick Holley, a starting running back then who suffered a back injury the week before at Minnesota. He took a medical redshirt.

But other current Kent starters played in the 2015 game, such as well-regarded senior Jon Cunningham. Litton and his offensive coaches know them well.

“[No.] 90, [Cunningham], I think he he can play at a lot of places,” said Bill Legg, offensive coordinator. “[No.-] 58 [Theo Eboigbe] is a defensive end, I think he’s really good. He can play at a lot of places. [No.] 5 [James Bo Alexander] is the ‘Mike’ linebacker, makes a lot of plays. Good-sized kid who can run well, so he can play sideline to sideline.

“Both corners [Monday and Jerrell Foster], you notice them because they play man coverage and they do a very, very good job. Their defense has been very good since Paul [Haynes] has been the head coach [since 2013].”

So does any of the 2015 game video apply to preparation for Saturday’s contest?

“What applies is twofold: One, it shows these guys line up and play extremely hard for four quarters, and they can be very difficult to move the ball against,” Legg said. “No matter who they’re playing. We had some pretty good receivers — Davonte Allen, [Deon-Tay] McManus, and they weren’t afraid to play man against us at that time, just like they weren’t afraid to play man vs. Clemson [in the season opener, a 56-3 setback].

“The biggest thing we’ve only done with ’15 is go back and get a feel for what their game plan was then. We’re a little bit different offensively than what we were in ’15, but it at least brings about little things to the table that you can process and be prepared for.”

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Looking well past Saturday, those traveling to the Herd’s Nov. 3 game at Florida Atlantic may want to get a jump on hotel reservations. Construction and home-repair workers will descend on south Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and will gobble up rooms.

The situation could be reminiscent of the Herd’s 2005 game against Tulane in Mobile, Alabama. Between Hurricane Katrina and the prolonged rebuilding from Ivan in 2004, rooms were scarce.

Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougsmock and read his blog at http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/dougsmock.

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