Herd football rallies for wild 36-31 win at FAU

Updated 3 weeks ago Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone
Herd football rallies for wild 36-31 win at FAU
Photo Eric Espada HERD ZONE

By Chuck McGill

HerdZone.com

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Marshall's sideline at FAU Stadium might have been only 1.8 miles from the beach, but the Thundering Herd football team found paradise here under the Friday night lights.

Sophomore running back Brenden Knox rushed 17 yards for a touchdown with 36 seconds left, dragging Owls defenders into the end zone to give Marshall the lead for the final time in front of a nationally televised audience. The Herd's road victory snaps the Owls' four-game winning streak and keeps Marshall in the Conference USA East Division race.

Getting to the pivotal moment in the final quarter was a wild ride, and both teams held the lead multiple times in the final 15 minutes.

The Owls appeared to have spoiled the Herd's comeback attempt when Malcolm Davidson dove into the end zone with 3:36 left for a go-ahead touchdown, leading Florida Atlantic to a 31-30 lead. 

But Marshall had one more answer, putting together a 10-play, 77-yard decisive drive in which Knox piled up big yardage and battered his way into the end zone one more time. 

Marshall entered the fourth quarter with the lead, and then regained it when sophomore quarterback Isaiah Green found junior receiver Willie Johnson down the left hash for a 60-yard touchdown with 9:15 left in the fourth quarter, giving Marshall a 30-24 lead. 

After being tied 17-17 at the half, the Herd took the lead on a 25-yard field goal by Justin Rohrwasser with 6:10 left of the third quarter. Rohrwasser converted a pair of field goal attempts, and is now 7-for-7 for the season and has made eight in a row dating back to last season. 

Marshall added to that lead after a 53-yard punt by Robert LeFevre was downed at the FAU 4 and gave the Owls a long field down by 3 points. Two plays later, FAU sophomore quarterback Chris Robison was sacked in the end zone by MU senior linebacker Tyler Brown, giving the Herd a 22-17 lead with 52 seconds left of the third quarter. 

The Herd couldn't add to its lead, punted again, and then Robison led the Owls on a 10-play, 91-yard go-ahead scoring drive capped by Robison's second rushing score of the game. A personal foul penalty on FAU forced the Owls to kick an extra point instead of go for a 2-point conversion, so they led 24-22 with 10:09 left of the game.

Then, three plays later, Green found Johnson for the final go-ahead strike, sending the Marshall sideline into a frenzy. 

Marshall won the coin toss, elected to receive and quickly opened the scoring. The Herd offense, benefiting from a trio of 15-yard penalties on FAU, covered 63 yards on eight plays before settling for a 30-yard field goal by senior kicker Justin Rohrwasser, who stayed perfect in six attempts this season. 

FAU didn't trail for long. The Owls' offense answered with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive in 2:35, as Robison kept the ball and beat a Marshall defender to the right pylon to put FAU up, 7-3, with 9:03 left of the first quarter. That was Robison's first rushing touchdown in 2019.

The Owls padded that lead later in the first quarter following a short punt by Marshall. Larry McCammon scored on a 1-yard run, capping a three-play, 56-yard drive that took only one minute off the clock to give FAU a 14-3 lead with 1:59 left of the opening quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 61-yard pass from Robison to tight end John Raine, FAU's longest pass play of the season.

The Thundering Herd defense kept the Owls' offense out of the end zone the rest of the half. 

Marshall trimmed the deficit to 4 points, 14-10, with 1:02 left of the first quarter when senior tight end Armani Levias made another highlight reel touchdown reception on the road. Levias rumbled 59 yards for a touchdown after catching a pass from Green, dragging would-be tacklers with him. 

FAU built the lead to 17-10 when Vladimer Rivas connected on a 32-yard field goal with 3:04 left of the first half followed an interception thrown by Green. With little time to spare, Marshall answered, going nearly the length of the field – 93 yards – on eight plays to tie the game, 17-17, at halftime. 

That touchdown drive was keyed by sophomore running back Brenden Knox, who gained 85 of his 95 first-half rushing yardage on that drive alone. Knox had rushes of 43 yards – a season long – and 31 yards before bullying his way into the end zone from 1-yard out with 13 seconds left.

Green finished 15 for 27 passing with 206 yards and two touchdowns. Levias led the Herd in receiving with four receptions and 70 yards. Knox had 220 of the team's 255 rushing yards.

The Marshall defense recorded seven sacks, and sophomore Steven Gilmore sealed the game with an interception on the final play of the night.

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