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Knox, Wells help Marshall beat No. 23 Appalachian State 17-7

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Brenden Knox rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Grant Wells came up with back-to-back big plays when Marshall needed them and the Thundering Herd beat No. 23 Appalachian State 17-7 on Saturday.

Marshall (2-0) beat a ranked opponent for the first time since winning at No. 6 Kansas State in 2003. It also was the Thundering Herd’s first win over a ranked opponent at home since 1976.

Appalachian State (1-1) squandered a couple of late opportunities and was held scoreless in the second half.

Knox got the edge over Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas in a matchup between two preseason offensive players of the year in their respective conferences.

Wells had a lackluster game but put together consecutive big plays that made the difference. The redshirt freshman threw a 67-yard pass down the middle to a wide open Xavier Gaines to set up Wells’ 12-yard scoring run on the next play for a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter.

Wells finished 11 of 25 for 163 yards after throwing four TD passes in his debut two weeks ago, a 59-0 win over Eastern Kentucky.

Appalachian State lost a chance to close the gap early in the fourth. Thomas combined with Mike Evans on a 41-yard pass play. But as Evans was heading toward the end zone, Marshall’s Brandon Drayton punched the ball loose and teammate Nazeeh Johnson recovered for a touchback.

Thomas finished 22 of 38 for 268 yards and one score.

THE TAKEAWAY

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers’ rushing attack was limited to 96 yards after piling up 308 yards in a 35-20 win over Charlotte last week.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd defense stymied Appalachian State on its final 10 drives. But Marshall will need to work on its own mistakes after getting penalized 11 times for 117 yards.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Marshall could make its first appearance in the AP Top 25 since finishing the 2014 season at No. 23, while Appalachian State will likely fall out of the rankings.

UP NEXT

Appalachian State hosts Campbell of the Championship Subdivision next Saturday. The Mountaineers have an Oct. 7 Sun Belt Conference showdown at home against No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette.

Marshall is scheduled to play at Conference USA rival Western Kentucky on Oct. 10. Rice postponed its Oct. 3 road game at Marshall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http:www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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