Marshall freshman quarterback Chase Litton and senior wide receiver Davonte Allen combined for 232 yards and a lot of misery for Charlotte on Saturday, as the Thundering Herd battered the 49ers 34-10 in a Conference USA game at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
Marshall’s biggest offensive output in nearly a year enabled the Thundering Herd (8-1, 5-0) to build a 28-0 lead only a few minutes into the second quarter.
Charlotte’s defense tightened in the second half, but Marshall’s defense, ranked No. 1 in the conference, kept the 49ers (2-6, 0-5) in check until the final minutes of the game. It was the sixth straight loss for Charlotte.
Litton had his biggest collegiate day so far, throwing for 486 yards and two touchdowns. Allen had 12 of Litton’s 33 completions, including a 66-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. Allen also had two key receptions on third-down plays in the first half.
Marshall shredded Charlotte’s defense, which entered the game ranked third in the conference, for 630 total yards. It was the Thundering Herd’s most yardage since its 67-66 overtime loss last November to Western Kentucky.
“This was very similar to Middle,” Charlotte coach Brad Lambert said, referring to a 73-14 mid-September loss at Middle Tennessee. “They came out and made some big plays early.”
“Their wide outs really hurt us, and we’ve got to find a way to stop that,” Lambert said.
Marshall’s wide receivers had eight receptions of 15 yards or more in the first half.
“They outdid us on big plays,” 49ers’ lineback Karrington King said. “We can’t give away those kinds of gifts.”
After totaling more than 400 yards’ offense in the first half, Marshall was held to 224 yards after intermission. Lambert said he liked the way his team kept playing after getting in an early hole.
“It would have been easy to quit, but they didn’t do that,” he said. “They kept playing hard.”
3 who mattered
Davonte Allen: Marshall’s senior wide receiver caught 12 passes for 232 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. It was the first time a Thundering Herd receiver had more than 200 yards in receptions in more than three years.
Chase Litton: The Thundering Herd’s freshman quarterback had his best collegiate day so far, completing 33 of 48 passes for 486 yards and two touchdowns. He was not sacked and didn’t throw an interception.
Kalif Phillips: He remained the bright spot in the 49ers offense, rushing for 99 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. Phillips, a junior from Kannapolis, passed the 3,000-yard career rushing mark early in the fourth quarter.
▪ Marshall showed its power with a pair of 97-yard touchdown drives in the first half. The first drive was capped by a 66-yard touchdown reception by Davonte Allen.
▪ The first half was marked by some rough play, including two personal foul penalties, several shoving incidents, and one near-altercation in the end zone between Marshall’s Allen and 49er cornerback Anthony Covington. The second half was much calmer.
▪ Marshall was its own worst enemy Saturday. The Thundering Herd was whistled for 14 penalties. The offensive line was whistled for five procedure infractions and three chop-block calls.
▪ There was a touching moment before the game in memory of Phil Ratliff, the former Marshall all-America and Charlotte assistant coach who died in August. A flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in Ratliff’s memory was presented by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson to Ratliff’s wife, Jenni, and their children, Haley and Dylan.
A video highlighting Ratliff’s life was shown on the scoreboard, followed by a lengthy applause from fans of both schools. Dylan Ratliff and Hudson led the 49ers on the field before the game.
▪ A skydiver dropped into Jerry Richardson Stadium prior to the game and presented the game ball to officials. That event had been planned for the Sept. 26 game against Florida Atlantic but was postponed due to bad weather.
▪ Attendance was 15,381, giving the 49ers their third home sellout of the season. In five games, Charlotte is averaging about 15,100 fans a game in five contests. The 49ers have one remaining home game – Nov. 14 against Texas-San Antonio.
▪ The 49ers hit the road next Saturday, traveling to Florida International for a noon Conference USA game.
“It was an emotional game. I talked to our guys about keeping their composure. I even called a timeout in the first half to calm things down. There were a lot of emotions all week.” – Charlotte coach Brad Lambert, referring to the emotional pregame buildup surrounding Phil Ratliff and then the spirited first-half play.