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With trip to Troy looming, Huff hopeful Herd can respond from first loss

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall officially joined the Sun Belt Conference nearly three months ago. This week, the Thundering Herd get its first taste of Sun Belt football with a league-opening road trip to Troy.

The Saturday game at Troy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be shown nationally on the NFL Network.

Marshall (2-1) is hoping to rebound from last week’s 34-31 overtime loss at Bowling Green, a game in which the Herd bolted to an early 14-0 lead, before suffering its first loss.

“Each week is a test and it’s unique,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said. “How do we rebound is a good question because good teams bounce back quickly. You have to fight each game.”

Troy (1-2, 0-1) suffered a last-second loss in difficult fashion last week at Appalachian State, 32-28, when the Mountaineers successfully completed a Hail Mary pass for a 53-yard touchdown as time expired. The Trojans lost to Ole Miss and defeated Alabama A&M in their other contests.

Troy is coached by Jon Sumrall, who is in his first season. Sumrall was hired away from the Kentucky coaching staff, where he worked the last two seasons as the Wildcats’ co-defensive coordinator. 

Sumrall previously worked as an assistant under former Trojans’ and current West Virginia head coach Neal Brown.

Saturday’s contest pits two teams trying to overcome major disappointments. Marshall wasn’t able to follow up its win at Notre Dame with a solid effort at Bowling Green, while the Trojans showed they could hang with a talented league foe before falling on the final play.

Huff wasn’t totally upset with the Herd’s work at Bowling Green as Marshall out-gained the Falcons 547-377 and limited BGSU to 77 rushing

Marshall did, however, surrender four sacks, while allowing the Falcons to convert both of their fourth down attempts.

“I thought we played hard,” Huff said. “We did a good job of getting the ball on offense to our skill guys in space and we were physical and ran to the ball on defense.”

Sumrall is facing similar concerns to Huff regarding his team’s response to a tough defense at Appalachian State.

“We found out a lot about ourselves at Appalachian State and fought to the end,” Sumrall said. “It hurts, but we’ll respond”

Sumrall is also aware of the challenge that Marshall presents.

“That win at Notre Dame wasn’t a fluke because they matched up well with the the Irish,” Sumrall said. “Marshall has good speed and athleticism all over the field.”

Ballpark Site Clearance begins

Marshall University is a step closer to saying “Play Ball” at a new baseball stadium. University leaders received financial approval for the stadium project on Monday and demolition began Tuesday on a vacant century-old building on the ballpark site. 

Marshall Athletic Director Christian Spears says the Herd should be playing ball in its new home for the 2024 season. The new stadium is being built just north of the MU Softball complex, Dot Hicks Field. 

Voting with the Herd

Marshall University student-athletes have started a campaign called “Vote with the Herd,” an initiative aimed at increasing voter registration on and off the MU campus.

The goal is to educate and emphasize the importance of civic engagement and voice,” said Samantha LaFon, President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “It is a civic duty that determines our country’s elected leaders, who decide the rules and regulations that affect our daily lives. Voting is more than filling out a ballot.

“As student-athletes, we should exercise this right and do so in a manner that supports not only ourselves, but our teammates, community and nation.”

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