The foot still hurt, but D’Treal Stone kept the pylon in his sights.
Making his season debut, Lafayette’s senior safety outraced Marshall’s Tyler Cott to the front corner of the end zone on a first-half interception return. Stone, the former quarterback, saw his first touch of the season go for six points — a huge play that maxed out the Fighting Irish’s lead on the way a 33-14 win at Alumni Stadium.
“At first, I didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Stone, who sat out Lafayette’s Week 1 victory at Mexico and continues to feel the lingering effects of a left foot injury. “Then I saw him start to slow down, and I just tried to dive for (the pylon). Somehow I got in.”
Stone’s 40-yard return touchdown put Lafayette up 25-0 and seemingly buried Marshall mid-way through the second quarter.
Instead, the Irish’s own mistakes gave way to extending the competitive portion of the nonconference matchup. Marshall closed within 25-14 at halftime after scoring on back-to-back possessions — a pair of touchdowns in the final 1 minutes, 23 seconds of the first half.
A pair of 15-yard penalties aided the first drive, and Irish quarterback Drew Cortez threw an interception on the next play to set up the Owls’ second score.
The steady drizzle played less of a role than the steady stream of yellow penalty flags.
The officials threw 29 flags, ending up with 25 penalties totaling 240 yards. Lafayette took responsibility for 133 of those yards, and the constant backpedaling kept the Irish from ever finishing the blowout.
Lafayette went 65 yards on nine plays to score a touchdown on the first possession of the second half, which ended up being the final tally.
“When you have a team down, you have to be able to put them away,” Lafayette coach Paul Woolard said. “We’ve got to decide what kind of team we want to be. Want to be great? Average? What do you want to be? We have a lot to figure out.
“We’re past just saying, ‘I’m just so happy we won.’ It’s more than that now.”
Lafayette (1-0) kept its shutout intact for much of the first half despite overworking its defense.
A trio of Marshall turnovers led to three of the Irish’s first-half touchdowns, including Stone’s pick-six in the second quarter. Lafayette mostly contained the Owls veer option, which gashed Chillicothe in their win last week.
Marshall’s miscues started on the first drive.
Cott went back to punt after an initial three and out, and although Lafayette didn’t block the kick, multiple players tackled him and caused a fumble. Shawn Ashford recovered for Lafayette, and Jurrel Green, who led the Irish with 102 yards rushing, scored on the next play with a 9-yard run.
Lafayette defensive lineman Austin Drennen recovered a fumbled exchange from Marshall quarterback Alex Maupin on the next possession, which also led to a score. The opportune offense kept the Irish’s defense on the field for 9:07 of the opening quarter.
Turned out to be a necessary effort, making Marshall’s brief comeback ultimately meaningless.
“We held together as a team and held them shut out for a quite a long time,” said Lafayette senior lineman Foster Brown, a transfer from Texas who tallied double digit tackles — multiple ones for loss — and helped the Irish rush for 232 yards. “Going both ways is a first for me. It kind of wears you down as time goes on, but we hung in there.”