Marshall extended its winning streak in bowl games to six after knocking off Colorado State 31-28 in the 2017 New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
The Thundering Herd closed the regular season with four losses in their final five games, though the final three losses during that stretch came by a total of eight points.
They were able to turn things around thanks to two outstanding rushing performances from Keion Davis and Tyler King. The duo combined for 247 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in the win.
Davis and King led the way for Marshall, but the win was a complete team effort that highlighted how good this group was during the 2017 season at its best.
Colorado State's offense came into the New Mexico Bowl ranked 10th in FBS with 501 yards per game. The Rams still moved the ball, racking up 390 yards and 26 first downs, but it was a far cry from what they've been accustomed to doing.
Quarterback Nick Stevens never found a consistent rhythm, despite throwing for 320 yards and two touchdowns. The senior completed 25 of his 52 attempts, his worst completion percentage (48.1) in a game this season.
After a scoreless first quarter, the floodgates burst open for both teams. They combined for 35 points with Marshall taking a 21-14 lead into halftime.
Davis capped off the second-quarter scoring barrage with this 68-yard touchdown run that set the tone for what was to come in the second half:
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"GET OFF ME!" 🗣 Keion Davis (probably) https://t.co/I0qKXuo1ZJ2017-12-16 23:11:08
Big plays were a key part of the Thundering Herd's offensive attack. Three of their four touchdowns came on plays of at least 68 yards, with King one-upping Davis by taking one to the house from 90 yards out to start the third quarter:
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⚡️ KING OF THE NORTH ⚡️ 90 YARDS TO THE 🏡 https://t.co/UbRUMlfu4s2017-12-17 00:06:09
It wasn't just in running the ball that Marshall found success. Wide receiver Tyre Brady, after missing the last two games of the regular season, caught six passes for 165 yards. He was overwhelmingly the favorite target for quarterback Chase Litton, who threw for 262 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the win.
Brady's performance moved him into third place for most receiving yards in the New Mexico Bowl, per Marshall assistant athletic director Chuck McGill:
Chuck McGill @chuckmcgill
Tyre Brady now has 161 receiving yards, which is the third-most in New Mexico Bowl history. The record for this bowl is 182 yards. https://t.co/WlKdc40Zyd2017-12-17 00:08:57
This season marked a return to form for Marshall following last year's disappointing 3-9 showing that led to West Virginia governor Jim Justice asking the school to fire head coach Doc Holliday.
It seemed like an extreme request after one bad season, especially since Holliday hadn't won fewer than 10 games in each of the previous three seasons and has been perfect in bowl games with the program:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Marshall won its 6th straight bowl appearance in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. That's the longest active streak of bowl wins in FBS.2017-12-17 01:40:50
The first of those six-straight bowl wins was under previous head coach Mark Snyder at the 2009 Little Caesars Bowl, but Holliday has overseen each of the last five postseason appearances.
An 8-5 record isn't exactly what Marshall had in mind after winning six of its first seven games. The late-season slide didn't deter Holliday or his team from closing this season on a high note to build momentum for what's to come in 2018.
Colorado State has been seemingly stuck in neutral since a 10-3 showing in 2014. The Rams have now finished 7-6 in each of the past three seasons, which includes losing four of their final five games in 2017.
Both programs have the potential to be better than what their final 2017 record showed. Marshall got the last laugh on this day and will be ready to make its play for a Conference USA title next year.