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For Herd and 49ers, plenty at stake in Saturday’s matchup

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It’s win or else time for the Marshall football team Saturday as the Thundering Herd plays at Charlotte for its final game on the road game of the 2021 regular season.

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m., at Jerry Richardson Stadium and will be shown on Stadium.

Marshall (6-4, 4-2) had a four-game win streak snapped last week with a 21-14 home loss to UAB, while Charlotte (5-5, 3-3) fell at Louisiana Tech, 42-34.

Marshall head coach Charles Huff says the Herd defense is looking to rebound after struggles in the UAB game when the Blazers were 9-of-17 on third-down conversions, keeping the Herd offense off the field. Marshall, meanwhile, converted 1-of-12 third downs.

“When we executed consistently, we moved the ball and stopped them on defense,” Huff said. “When we didn’t, we gave up big plays on defense and obviously being one for twelve on third down is definitely not executing consistently. If we put it all together moving forward, we have a chance to do some really good things.”

Saturday’s game is the 100th in 49ers’ program history, which began in 2013 with a 52-7 win over Campbell.

Both teams have plenty to play for this week. A Marshall victory would keep the Herd’s hopes alive for a Conference USA East Division title, something only attainable if MU can beat both Charlotte this week and Western Kentucky next week.

Charlotte will be bowl eligible with one more win.

WKU has a one-game lead over Marshall in the divisional standings. The Hilltoppers host Florida Atlantic on Saturday before traveling to Huntington to face the Herd on November 27.

The Herd and 49ers have met five previous times and Marshall has won three. The teams last met in 2019, a game played in a rainstorm in Charlotte and won by the 49ers, 24-13.

Will Healy is in his third season as Charlotte’s head coach and has a 9-10 record with the 49ers.

This week’s key matchup looks to be Charlotte redshirt senior quarterback Chris Reynolds against the Marshall defense.

Reynolds, Charlotte’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns and passing yards, is coming off a performance in the Louisiana Tech loss which included a school-record 448 passing yards with two touchdowns and an additional score on the ground.

Reynolds has also thrown for more than 300 yards in wins over Duke and Middle Tennessee State.

Reynolds’ main targets are redshirt senior Victor Tucker, the second-leading receiver in school history for yardage and touchdowns, and sophomore Grant DuBose. Tucker’s caught 44 passes  for 587 yards and two touchdowns, while DuBose has 728 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

The 49ers’ main run threat is redshirt senior Calvin Camp, who has 500 rushing yards and three scores.

Charlotte Coach Will Healy says that he and his staff have done some soul-searching this week after giving up big numbers in the Louisiana Tech loss, such as 504 total yards for the Bulldogs.

“We’ve got a lot of room for improvement and we have a short time to get there,” Healy said. “This will be a big week of preparation and we’re playing a great football team.”


Former Marshall defensive assistant coach J.C. Price was named Tuesday as interim head coach at Virginia Tech. Price, a Tech alumnus, replaces Justin Fuente, who was fired three days after the Hokies beat Duke 48-17. Price coached Marshall’s defensive line starting in 2012, but he was not retained by the Thundering Herd after former head coach Doc Holliday’s dismissal and the hiring of Huff as head coach.

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