HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s season-opening win over Eastern Kentucky was clean by all standards for the Thundering Herd.
Zero turnovers, single-digit missed tackles and only two penalties in the contest.
That was what made Marshall head coach Doc Holliday the happiest after he reviewed the tape this week.
“Coming out of that game, the one thing I was really pleased with, I thought we tackled extremely well — we were single-digit missed tackles defensively — and I thought we operated pretty clean, only having two penalties and that type of thing,” Holliday said.
The same could not be said for Marshall’s next opponent, Appalachian State, in its season opener on Saturday.
Last season, the Mountaineers were one of the top teams in FBS in protecting the football with just nine turnovers.
However, Appalachian State had three costly turnovers and several other miscues that kept a statistically lopsided game close during Saturday’s 35-20 win over Charlotte, which, like Marshall is in Conference USA’s East Division.
Appalachian State’s miscues hindered the Mountaineers at Kidd Brewer Stadium Saturday in Boone, North Carolina.
The biggest miscue came with just six minutes left and the Mountaineers clinging to a one-possession lead. Running back Camerun Peoples was stripped of the ball on a first-down play, which turned the ball back over to Charlotte at the Appalachian State 20-yard line with a chance to tie the game late.
Luckily for the Mountaineers, their defense came up big on the drive, getting a red-zone stop to preserve the lead and the win.
It was the final of many offensive miscues for Appalachian State on Saturday.
The Mountaineers hurt themselves earlier in the game with a pair of red-zone turnovers — one on a first-quarter drive just inches from the Charlotte end zone that would have led to an early advantage, and another on an interception in the red zone that took potential points off the board.
The Mountaineers’ first turnover came as Charlotte’s Ben DeLuca got a helmet on a Marcus Williams carry and the 49ers recovered at the 9-yard line. From there, Charlotte drove 91 yards to take an early 7-0 lead.
Through three quarters, Appalachian State had six trips to the red zone, but only two touchdowns came of those drives.
The Mountaineers also had several defensive mistakes, including a key offsides call on fourth down that kept a Charlotte scoring drive alive.
Special teams were also not immune to App State’s ailments. The Mountaineers had a field goal blocked before halftime and also allowed a 97-yard kickoff return by Charlotte’s Aaron McAllister that kept the 49ers around in the third quarter.
In all, it was not a crisp performance for the Mountaineers in Charleston native Shawn Clark’s debut as the head coach of Appalachian State.
However, the Mountaineers’ ability to win in spite of those mistakes shows that a tough opponent is coming to Huntington to meet with Marshall next Saturday afternoon.
Appalachian State finished with 311 yards on the ground against Charlotte. Williams finished with 117 yards, People had 102 and Daetrich Harrington added 60 and two touchdowns, including a 15-yarder to seal the win late in the contest.