Knox, Marshall too strong for No. 24 Appalachian St.

Brenden Knox rushed 28 times for 138 yards and a touchdown as Marshall’s running game outperformed the more-hyped ground attack of No. 24 Appalachian State in a 17-7 victory on Saturday in Huntington, W. Va.

In improving to 2-0, Marshall beat a ranked opponent for the first time since upsetting No. 6 Kansas State in 2003. The Thundering Herd outrushed the Mountaineers 216-96 and overcame 11 penalties for 117 yards.

Freshman quarterback Grant Wells completed just 11 of 25 passes for 163 yards with an interception, but was able to connect with Xavier Gaines on a 67-yard strike late in the third quarter. That set up Wells’ 12-yard touchdown run with 4:44 remaining.

Marshall’s defense, which has allowed just one touchdown in two games, bottled up Appalachian State’s rushing attack.

Quarterback Zac Thomas connected on 22 of 38 passes for 268 yards, but two crucial turnovers and a shanked 26-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter stymied the Mountaineers (1-1).

Both teams started the game with touchdowns, which seemed to augur an expected shootout.

Marshall rode Knox on its first drive, as he collected 49 of its 51 yards, including the last two for a 7-0 lead just 1:36 into the game.

While the pass-first Thundering Herd relied on the running game for starters, run-first Appalachian State went to the air for its touchdown. Thomas was 6 of 7 for 54 yards, capping the march with an 11-yard strike to Jalen Virgil, who made a terrific catch against tight coverage near the back left corner of the end zone at the 7:11 mark.

That was it for the offenses for most of the half’s remainder, although Marshall did piece together a drive of more than six minutes to break the tie.

Kicker Shane Ciucci converted a 29-yard field goal with 2:28 left in the second quarter to give Marshall a 10-7 lead.

A late Mountaineers drive came up short when Steven Gilmore intercepted Thomas at the Herd 14 in the final minute, enabling Marshall to take a 10-7 edge to intermission.

–Field Level Media

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