Marshall ended November unbeaten with a 28-23 win over Georgia State

– By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Virginia — Marshall ended his unforgettable November on Saturday.

Khalan Laborn rushed in two points, the first an 83-yard dash late in the second period to start the offensive Thundering Herd, Rasheen Ali got his first TD in almost a year, Cam Fancher continued his quarterback progress and the Defense recorded three straight sacks in a key sequence in the fourth quarter to put Marshall 28-23 past Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The Panthers scored on their opening drive of the game and second half, and produced a late fourth-quarter score to reduce the deficit to 28-23 with 3-45 remaining.

Marshall would take the ensuing push and play enough successful games to tick off time to make Senior Day a success, make the herd 4-0 in November and await news of a slightly sweeter bowl opponent.

“The most beautiful and ugliest win we’ve ever had,” said Herd coach Charles Huff. “Hats off to the state of Georgia. They came to play. They kept the game back and forth. Our boys found a way to win.”

Part of the problem may have been the emotion of Senior Day, which saw 17,427 fans turn out to pay tribute to the 20 players who made their last appearance at home.

“Not a good job to start with,” Huff said. “Emotionally confused. In the second half we made moves. Cam managed the game at an elite level. It’s nice to see (No.) 22 (Ali) back. Laborn made a great play in the first half. The defense, the three big moves. You have to fight. This is what happens when you fight.

“I told you earlier in the week that it’s about a story that you tell will be in 20 years and or but. Either you played hard at Joan last time, great crowd, great weather and we won the game. Or played hard at Joan, great crowd, great weather, but we lost. We do it together or not. Remember this day, this result. I’m glad they made it.”

Ali had 102 rushing yards, Laborn had 100 and Fancher had 69. The southpaw completed 18 of 28 for 202 yards and two points. The herd (8-4 overall, 5-3 in the Sunbelt) accumulated 486 yards in total.

Huff continues to admire what Ali has accomplished since he was injured last season and returned to action at Georgia Southern just last week.

“He needs to work on his touchdown skills,” Huff said. “It’s been a while since he’s been this successful. He handled it. It’s an affirmation.”

The Panthers (4-8 overall, 3-5 Sun Belt) opened the day with a 55-yard pass from Darren Grainger to Kris Byrd wide open in the middle. Grainger then threw a 20-yarder at leading receiver Jamari Thraser, and Tucker Gregg hit it on a 3-yard run.

Marshall moved the ball intermittently, but Rece Verhoff missed field goals from 46 and 29 yards. The Panthers netted a 26-yard field goal from Michael Hayes for a 10-0 lead with 7:40 of the second half.

Laborn, who joined the herd via the Florida State transfer portal, needed a spark and provided it with his 83-yard dash down the right touchline.

“A guy was after me,” Laborn said. “Let me prepare a move. I won’t let another ankle tackle stop me. Kept my eye or the prize, the end zone.” His previous long run for a score was 78 yards against Gardner-Webb.

Fancher later produced scrambles for 13 and 23 yards to set up the 5-yard throw at Ali for a 14-10 lead at halftime.

“Loved it,” said Alis TD Herd defense attorney Koby Cumberlander.

“Great to see,” said Fancher.

Grainger found Thrasher for a 12-yard TD early in the third period to take a 17-14 lead.

The herd quickly hit back, and Fancher connected with three straight passes — against Devin Miller for 11 yards, Montgomery for 33, and Charles Montomery with a 32-yard TD punch and a 21-17 lead.

Marshall’s defense responded with back-to-back sacks from Owen Porter, Eli Neal and Cumberlander to thrill the crowd at Edwards Stadium. After a punt, Eli sprinted 33 yards to first down on the 6. It took four games, but the herd made it when Laborn went from a yard out to fourd down with 5:28 in the game.

Georgia State wasn’t going away. Grainger found Thrasher for 54 yards to Herd 31. The Panthers scored 3:45 on a 2-yard run by Marcus Carroll, but the try for two fell short of an incomplete pass. The herd then gained possession and the clock ticked down.

Cumberlander and Laborn put the day’s events into perspective. Laborn now has 1,472 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

“Blessed to be here. I appreciate Marshal. Best moments of my life here,” Cumberlander said. “Legacy is about what kind of impact you have made in football, in the community. Our style… Attack, Attack, Attack. That keeps us going.”

“That meant a lot,” Laborn said. “I came here in January and showed what kind of player I can be. Nice to end on a high note. I appreciated every moment. Seniors’ Day couldn’t be ruined.”

Huff spoke about Fancher’s continued growth.

“Maturation,” said Huff. “It took time in this position. He has a lot to do.”

It appears the herd has expanded their offensive playbook and Fancher is more than happy.

“More on my plate. It’s my job to deal with it. It gets slower and slower from game to game. In a dual threat, the defense must have an additional defender. respect or anger. what we see Give the receivers a chance to catch the ball.”

Grainger threw for 291 yards, but herd defense sacked him seven times and limited him to 16 yards on 19 carries. Thrasher caught nine passes for 155 yards.

Herd Elders honored before the game were Zach Appio, Damion Barber, Jace Bobo, Joshua Bowers, Esaias Carpenter, Henry Colombi, Charlie Gray, JT Dukes, Jacob Kirkendoll, Laborn, Stacey Marshall Jr., Miller, Isaiah Norman, Cedrice Paillant, Stone Scarcelle, Anthony Watts, Micah Abraham, Steven Fauchex, and Porter.