HUNTINGTON - Demetrius Evans and Davonte Allen have gotten snaps in relief of Aaron Dobson at Marshall's "X" receiver position, but they found themselves looking at a lot more Saturday against Memphis.
Marshall's first play from scrimmage was Rakeem Cato's 4-yard quick pass to Dobson. As Dobson was tackled by DeAndre Thompson and Cannon Smith, both of his knees bent back awkwardly.
Dobson walked off the field with some assistance, but his day was done. That left Evans and Allen to pick up the slack the rest of the game.
They had a fine day, with Evans catching seven passes for 50 yards and Allen four for 87. Evans had a 25-yard TD catch early in the third quarter and Allen had the catch that was most critical, a 28-yarder with 7:34 left that set the final margin of 38-28. The play finally halted Memphis' comeback from a 31-7 deficit.
On the offensive line, right guard John Bruhin was held out, leaving Garrett Scott to start there and Gage Niemeyer to start at right tackle. Left guard Josh Lovell also held out most of the game, with Alex Schooler filling in there. Lovell did play some snaps, moving Schooler to right guard and Scott to right tackle. On the defensive line, tackle Brandon Sparrow was injured, but Marshall coach Doc Holliday thinks he will be fine.
Holliday praised cornerbacks Derrick Thomas and Monterius Lovett, who went all 84 Memphis snaps, and they did so with little practice this week. Keith Baxter, still holding one arm, dressed but only watched.
"There wasn't a whole lot of practice time for those guys this week," Holliday said. "Lovett, he was in a boot all week, took that boot off and played every snap. Derrick Thomas didn't take one snap in practice. For those guys to show up and play like they did without practicing - I don't like that, but I didn't have anybody else.
"All three of those kids should be healthy and practicing this week."
As for Dobson, Holliday said he was unsure about his prognosis. The Dunbar native did stand to watch the remainder of the game after receiving treatment.
Marshall blocked its sixth kick of the year when Jeremiah Taylor snuffed out a 29-yard field goal try by Paulo Henriques, a play that ultimately prevented the Tigers from tying the game. It came on the Tigers' first drive of the second half, when Marshall was protecting a 17-7 lead.
But that was one of two highlights of an otherwise dismal day for the Herd's special teams. The funny thing was this: A Bobby McCain 52-yard kickoff return to open the third quarter set up another Herd highlight, a recovery of a not-so-onside kick.
McCain's long return, which came a week after Central Florida's Quincy McDuffie returned two for touchdowns against the Herd, forced Marshall into squibbing. On the next kickoff, Justin Haig bounced it downfield, and it caromed off one of Memphis' up-men and Cortez Carter recovered.
"I'd like to say it was by design, but it wasn't," Holliday quipped.
He wasn't joking so much about two other special-teams disasters, starting with the yielding of an intentional onside kick. After Alex Bazzie's post-touchdown penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, Memphis kicked off from midfield with the Herd leading 31-14.
Henriques, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior, nudged the kick forward, ran past it and turned his body around as a shield to easily recover it 11 yards downfield. That allowed the Tigers to score another touchdown and keep the Herd offense off the field for 31/2 more minutes.
"We had guys in position, but that was about as good of a kick that I've ever seen," Holliday said. "We thought, going in, we were going to get that. Not particularly that, but I knew going in that we were going to get something in the special teams, or offensively, that's going to take some shots and create issues for us, and we did."