ALBION – The Marshall football team made a statement at Albion College’s Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium on Friday night — thanks in large part to some ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning.’
The Redhawks offensive line paved the way for 307 rushing yards, while the defense held strong in a 21-14 victory over Division 6 second-ranked Jackson Lumen Christi in Interstate Eight Conference action.
“That’s our bread and butter,” Marshall head coach Jason Stealy said of the rushing attack. “When you have Chris (Upright) and you have Forrest (Jackson), it’s ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning’ baby. Just give it to one of them and we’ll be alright. The big boys up front did their job.”
Jackson scampered for 240 yards and two scores on 30 carries, while Upright plowed his way to 49 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts to help Marshall improve to 4-1 on the season.
Both Jackson and Upright were quick to credit those who made their big nights possible.
“I want to thank our lineman. They did it,” said Jackson, an Albion native. “We’re a good team…. We did our things out there on offense and defense. We had a few ups and downs, but we’re picking it up.”
Upright added, “Our hogs — our offensive and defensive line — they are the heart and the soul of our team.”
For Lumen Christi (4-1), it marked the Titans’ first regular season loss in three years.
“It’s a huge win. Our kids just kept battling,” Stealy said. “We knew they weren’t going to quit for four quarters. I knew it was going to be (close) until the end. We got up early, but we had to keep fighting because they don’t quit. And our kids did that all game long. I’m just so proud of these guys and happy for these kids for what they’ve done tonight.”
Lumen Christi showed a lot of respect for Marshall’s running game, often bringing eight or nine players near the line of scrimmage. That was the case with 9:31 to go in the second quarter, when Jackson broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and was off to the races for a 60-yard touchdown run.
On the Redhawks’ next possession, they ran the ball 11 times for 50 yards, capped off by an Upright 5-yard touchdown run to put the Redhawks up 14-0.
The Titans got the ball back with 1:45 to play in the first half, but Marshall defensive back Tyler Torrey made a leaping interception and the Redhawks’ 14-yard line to end the first half.
Lumen Christi fumbled on its first possession of the third quarter, recovered by Marshall’s Owen Miller. The Redhawks made the Titans pay three plays later when Jackson found paydirt on a 21-yard run to help put his team up 21-0.
Lumen Christi showed why it’s consistently one of the state’s top programs, never letting the game get out of reach.
Titans’ running back Bo Bell scored on a 15-yard run in the third quarter, and added a 4-yard touchdown run with three minutes remaining in regulation.
Following Bell’s second score, Lumen Christi recovered an onside kick, though the ball didn’t appear to make it past 10 yards. Officials initially ruled that it was Marshall’s ball, but after a brief conference, the Titans were awarded the football.
The Marshall defense came through in the end, forcing a turnover on downs with 1:23 to play. The Redhawks ended the game in the victory formation, much to the delight of a huge Marshall crowd.
Upright led the defense with 11 1/2 tackles, including two for loss. Cam Face added 5 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss, while Torrey had 5 1/2 stops to go with his interception. Nate Steele had a sack and Justin Halcomb added a fumble recovery.
Nick Buckley can be reached at email@example.com or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley