The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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College Sports

September 7, 2013

Marshall doesn’t want to become next FCS upset victim in tonight’s game

Doc Holliday ran through the scores as though he were the crawl at the bottom of a sports TV channel.

“South Florida got crushed by McNeese State 53-21. UConn got crushed by Towson 33-18. Eastern Illinois beat San Diego State 40-19. Georgia State got beat by Samford 31-21,” Marshall’s fourth-year head coach said.

He mentioned Oregon State’s loss to Eastern Washington, and Kansas State’s loss to Football Championship Subdivision two-time defending national champion South Dakota State. Another Big 12 team, Iowa State, was upset by Northern Iowa.

It was the theme of the first weekend of the college football season — small schools going into the larger stadiums of their bigger Football Bowl Subdivision foes and pulling off the upsets.

Teams all over the country that didn’t suffer that fate probably got the same speech that Holliday gave to his team earlier this week.

“We tried to stress to our guys that there were seven teams sitting in the same boat we were (the previous week) and, whether it was preparation or overconfidence, they woke up Sunday morning and weren’t very happy,” Holliday said.

Those seven games, Holliday hopes, will serve as motivation for the Thundering Herd to avoid going through the same sorrow and embarrassment this Sunday, one day after Gardner-Webb visits Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Kickoff for the non-televised game will be 6:30 p.m.

“The message to our football team is that you better be prepared every week to go play or you will get beat,” Holliday said. “Gardner-Webb has just as good of skill as we saw last Saturday.”

The Thundering Herd did a good job of handling that skill, drubbing Miami (Ohio) 52-14 in its season opener. The offense exploded in the second half, scoring on its first five possessions, and the defense bottled up the RedHawks to the tune of 55 yards of offense and two first downs in the final 30 minutes.

Gardner-Webb also won its season opener, 28-21 over Furman. Quarterback Lucas Beatty completed 22 of 31 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns and was not intercepted. Both of his TD passes went to Kenny Cook, who finished with nine catches for 113 yards.

Running back Juanne Blount scored twice and ran for 162 yards.

“It’s going to be all about preparation, and if we don’t do that this week then we will get beat,” Holliday said. “Our kids need to understand that.”

— E-mail: gfauber

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