BOCA RATON, Fla. — You could say the Thundering Herd ran away with it … especially in the waning moments of regulation.
Brenden Knox churned out 220 rushing yards and two scores on 23 attempts, including a 17-yard game-winner with 36 seconds left that ultimately propelled Marshall on to a 36-31 victory over host Florida Atlantic Friday night in a Conference USA East Division contest at FAU Stadium.
The Thundering Herd (4-3, 2-1 CUSA East) trailed by as much as 11 points in the first quarter, but the guests rallied and managed to knot things up at 17-all headed into the break.
MU tacked on a field goal and added a safety in the third period for a 22-17 advantage, then both squads took turns trading leads with touchdowns over the final 15 minutes of play.
The Green and White — behind a punishing ground attack that churned out 254 yards on 44 carries — eventually had the last laugh as the guests covered 77 yards in 10 plays on their game-clinching drive.
Knox took a pivotal third-and-two handoff and covered 17 yards on his way into the end zone, allowing Marshall to secure a 5-point cushion with under a minute remaining.
The Owls (4-3, 2-1) — who had a 4-game winning streak snapped — took over possession at their own 33 with 36 seconds left, but Steven Gilmore intercepted a Chris Robison pass at the MU 46 with 23 seconds remaining.
The Herd simply took a knee on the ensuing play, allowing the clock to run out while wrapping up the 36-31 triumph.
Marshall took its opening possession of the game and turned it into an early lead as Justin Rohrwasser converted a 30-yard field goal at the 11:38 mark of the first for a 3-0 edge.
Robison gave FAU its first lead with a 1-yard run at the 9:03 mark, the Larry McCammon added a 1-yard run at the 1:59 mark of the first for a 14-3 cushion.
The Herd, however, needed just three plays to answer as Isaiah Green found Armani Levias with a 59-yard touchdown pass. The score capped a 75-yard drive at the 1:02 mark of the opening period, making it a 14-10 deficit.
Vladimir Rivas tacked on a 32-yard field goal at the 3:04 mark of the second quarter, but Knox added a 1-yard run with 13 seconds left in the half — tying the halftime score at 17-all.
Rohrwasser added a 25-yard field goal with 6:10 left in the third for a 20-17 lead, then Tyler Brown sacked Robison in the end zone for a safety — making it a 22-17 contest with 52 seconds left in the third stanza.
Robison scored on a 1-yard run with 10:09 remaining, allowing Florida Atlantic to jump back out in front for a 24-22 lead.
Marshall answered with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Green to Willie Johnson, putting the guests back out in front by a 30-24 margin with 9:15 remaining.
Malcolm Davidson gave the hosts their final lead of the game at the 3:36 mark of the fourth after capping a 7-play, 69-yard drive with a 2-yard run — making it a 31-30 contest.
The Thundering Herd outgained the hosts by a 460-419 margin in total yards and both team committed one turnover apiece in the contest.
MU had seven of the 12 punts in the game, but also recorded seven of the nine sacks. The Owls were a perfect 5-for-5 on red zone opportunities, while Marshall was a perfect 4-for-4 inside the FAU 20-yard line.
Sheldon Evans followed Knox with 31 rushing yards on seven carries, while Green ran the ball a dozen times for three yards. Green was also 15-of-24 passing for 206 yards, including two touchdowns and one interception.
Levias led the guests with four catches for 70 yards, followed by Xavier Gaines with three catches for 12 yards.
Omari Cobb paced the MU defense with 11 tackles and Nazeeh Johnson added eight stops. Tavante Beckett led Marshall with 2.5 sacks.
Davison led the FAU rushing attack with 52 yards on 12 attempts. Robison was 21-of-39 passing for 362 yards, including an interception. Dea Antoine led the Owl receivers with seven catches for 111 yards.
Caliph Brice led the hosts with 11 tackles and a sack, followed by Akileis Leroy with 10 stops. Tim Bonner added a sack and Leroy also picked off a Green pass late in the second quarter.
Marshall returns to action Saturday, Oct. 26, when it hosts Western Kentucky in a CUSA East Division contest at 2:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.