After a weather delay of nearly two hours, the Marshall Mavericks finally kicked off to the Tyler Lee Red Raiders at 9:27 p.m. Friday and the game lasted until just after the stroke of midnight, where the Mavericks fell in a 27-20 final.
The loss gives Marshall a 0-1 record to start the season while Lee is now 1-0.
“A lot of people want to chalk it up to the rain delay and there are a lot of things people want to chalk it up to but at the end of the day, we didn’t play well,” Marshall’s first year athletic director and head football coach Jake Griedl said. “It’s just plain and simple. There’s a bunch of keyboard warriors out there going to work. There’s a bunch of arm-chair quarterbacks going to work but at the end of the day, this staff knows what kind of team we have and this team knows what kind of staff we have. We’re going to be just fine. Everybody needs to calm down. We made a lot of mistakes last night and the good thing is those aren’t anything we can’t fix. We’ll get those mistakes fixed and we’ll just keep getting better.”
Marshall came up with 317 yards of total offense with 232 coming through the air and 85 on the ground. J.J. Green went 16-of-26 passing for 232 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He found Savion Williams eight times for 94 yards and a pair of scores. Demarcus Williams caught two passes for 76 yards. Tyrek Rawls had three receptions for 22 yards and one touchdown. Dominque Williams had 12 carries for 51 yards to lead the Mavericks’ ground attack.
The Red Raiders had 388 yards of total offense, with 338 coming on the ground and 50 through the air. Jamarian Miller had 20 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown. Mark Patton rushed 17 times for 104 yards and two scores. Jamal Ligon had four carries for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Lee received the opening kickoff and found the end zone on a 50-yard run from Miller to draw first blood. Mason Magers tacked on the extra point to give the Red Raiders an early 7-0 lead with 10:18 left to play in the first quarter.
Marshall’s first offensive drive of the season came to an early end when Green found Savion Williams for the completion but the Red Raiders forced the receiver to fumble and came up with the recovery deep in Marshall territory. The drive ended with a one-yard quarterback sneak from Patton to spread his team’s lead to 14-0 with eight minutes left in the first quarter.
Marshall scored its first touchdown of the season with 8:44 left in the second quarter. Green launched a pass downfield that was tipped by a defender before landing in the hands of Demarcus Williams for a 49-yard completion. Two plays later, Green picked a bad snap, scrambled around to avoid the sack then found a wide open Rawls in the end zone. Melvin Salinas tacked on the extra point to make the score 14-7.
The next touchdown came at the end of the third quarter when Ligon found the end zone from a yard out, spreading Lee’s lead to 21-7 with 8:37 to play in the third.
Marshall responded at the end of the quarter. Green found himself scrambling around in the backfield, changing directions and dodging defenders. He managed to avoid the sack as he launched a pass into the end zone that was caught by Savion Williams. After a missed PAT, the score was 21-13 with 1:17 left in the third quarter.
Patton found the end zone on another quarterback sneak, this one coming from five yards out. The Red Raiders repaid the favor with a missed extra point and that made the score 27-13 with 8:27 left in the fourth quarter.
Green and Savion Williams connected for another touchdown with 6:48 left in regulation, putting Marshall within one score, 27-20.
Moments later, with just over a minute left, the Mavericks were looking for a late score to tie the game up as they were faced with fourth down. Another snap sailed over Green’s head, forcing him to scramble around in the pocket before throwing a pass that sailed out of pounds. That forced a turnover on downs and gave the ball back to Tyler Lee as the Red Raiders took a couple knees and drained the clock to seal up the 27-20 win.
“We were down 14-0 and clawed our way back into the game,” Greidl added. “Our kids didn’t give up. In the coaching world, there’s this idea that if you can get up on Marshall, you’re going to shut them down. Well, we went down 14-0 pretty quick and there at the end, we got the ball with some time to try to tie the game up.
“Our kids did well. Tyler Lee is a good football team. They’ve got a lot better, which we knew was going to happen because Kurt Traylor is a really good football coach, but at the end of the day, a defense did just enough for our offense to win the game.
“Could we have played better defensively? Sure. Could we have played better offensively? Sure. Were there areas where we could have coached it better? Absolutely, no doubt about it but if I can say it once, I’m going to say it a million times – we’re going to be fine.”
The Mavericks will return to action Friday when they take on the Longview Lobos on the road. Lee will take on John Tyler at Rose Stadium in Tyler.