HUNTINGTON — Following Saturday’s lopsided win over North Carolina Central, there weren’t many things that head coach Charles Huff liked about his team’s performance.
There was one play in particular, though, that Huff made mention of during his postgame news conference.
It was a play by veteran tight end Garet Morrell, which served as an example of what Huff wants to see from all of his players.
The play came with Marshall leading 37-7 and looking for more early in the fourth quarter.
Backup quarterback Luke Zban rolled right and threw over the middle, but the pass was intercepted by North Carolina Central’s Marvin Reed.
Reed, a freshman defensive back, worked his way back across the field and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone, but Morrell made up nearly 20 yards on Reed — from the center of the field to the near sideline — before tackling him at the 6-yard line.
It would’ve been easy, especially in a lopsided game, for Morrell to let the play go into the end zone for a meaningless touchdown, but Huff noted Morrell’s resolve to not give up on the play, no matter the circumstance.
“Obviously, ‘G’ really did a good job of busting his tail and finishing,” Huff said. “That’s what we talk about. You finish every play, finish every rep, finish every drive, finish every game.”
Morrell’s hustle was rewarded just one play later when Herd safety E.J. Jackson hit N.C. Central quarterback Davius Richard, forcing a fumble at the goal line.
Following the collision between two former Glades Central High School teammates in Florida, Marshall linebacker Charlie Gray pounced on the ball, giving possession back to the Thundering Herd.
It also gave Huff an important piece of film to show his team on Sunday.
“I think that’s a really good teachable moment,” Huff said. “We talk all the time about whenever there’s a turnover on offense, if we can just get the guy on the ground and give our defense a chance to put their hand down for one more snap, you never know what might happen.”
It is one thing for Huff and his staff to talk to the team about those instances, but having it on film from one of their peers to use in instruction is invaluable, according to the Herd’s first-year coach.
“Anytime you can use real-life examples to hit on what you’re trying to teach them, I think that’s good,” Huff said.
The turn of events further demoralized an already defeated N.C. Central team, and the Herd took advantage.
Marshall’s offense took over at the 1-yard line and drove 99 yards in 13 plays, with freshman Ethan Payne taking it into the end zone, giving the Herd points off a turnover that started with Morrell’s hustle on one of Marshall’s own mistakes.
“He got it on the ground, the defense did a really good job of getting it out and we turned around and went the other way,” Huff said. “That’s a really good learning lesson.”