BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The Herd didn’t even miss a beat.
After two weekends of being idle, the Marshall football team reeled off 38 consecutive points within three quarters of play and remained unbeaten Saturday with a 38-14 victory over host Western Kentucky in a Conference USA East Division matchup at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
The Thundering Herd (3-0, 1-0 CUSA East) forced three turnovers that resulted in 21 points and churned out 182 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, allowing the guests to build first half leads of 14-0 and 28-0 before taking their largest lead of the night with 2:22 remaining in the third period.
The Hilltoppers (1-3, 1-1) broke into the scoring column on the final play of the third quarter as Kevaris Thomas scored on a 2-yard run, then Dalvin Smith hauled in a 26-yard pass from Thomas with six seconds left in regulation to wrap up the 24-point outcome.
MU scored on the opening drive of the game, marching 75 yards in two plays as Brenden Knox capped things with a 45-yard scamper for a 7-0 lead just 38 seconds into regulation.
Tavante Beckett recovered the first of his three fumbles three drives later, giving the guests possession at their own 40 with 6:51 left in the first.
Nine plays and 60 yards later, Marshall had a 14-point lead as Sheldon Evan plunged in from five yards out with 2:21 remaining.
Knox capped a 4-play, 45-yard drive at the 2:14 mark of the second quarter with a 1-yard scoring run for a 21-point lead.
Beckett recovered a second fumble with two minutes left in the half, then the Herd drove 37 yards in seven plays — with Knox capping things with a 9-yard run for a 28-0 edge with 27 seconds left before halftime.
Beckett recovered his final takeaway at the 9:20 mark of the third and rumbled 38 yards to paydirt, allowing the Green and White to secure a 35-0 lead.
Shane Ciucci — who was a perfect 5-for-5 on point-after tries — successfully booted a 28-yard field goal with 2:22 remaining in the third for a 38-point advantage.
Marshall has won four consecutive decisions over WKU is now 8-4 alltime in the head-to-head series. The Herd is also 3-0 to start the season for the first time since claiming the program’s only CUSA championship back in 2014.
MU claimed a 17-15 edge in first downs and did not commit a turnover in the contest, finishing plus-3 in turnover differential. Marshall also posted a 344-294 edge in total yards of offense, including a 182-85 advantage on the ground.
Knox — who eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the 12th time in his career — gained 107 yards on 15 carries. Knox also moved up the career rushing list at Marshall, surpassing Larry Fourqurean for 10th place on the alltime list. Knox now has 2,295 career rushing yards.
Grant Wells completed 16-of-22 passes for 162 yards, with Broc Thompson hauling in four passes for 94 yards.
Eli Neal, Nazeeh Johnson and Derrek Pitts each recorded five tackles to pace the Thundering Herd defense.
Thomas led WKU with 30 rushing yards on seven attempts and completed 9-of-18 passes for 148 yards. Tyrrell Pigrome gained 28 yards on seven rushes and also connected on 12-of-21 passes for 61 yards.
Dayton Wade led the Hilltopper wideouts with eight catches for 58 yards. Devon Key paced the defense with 10 tackles.
Marshall returns to action Saturday when it travels to Louisiana Tech for a CUSA contest at 6 p.m.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.