The Herd swiped two Blake Bortles passes in the first half of Saturday's game. The first was Bortles' first pass of the game and UCF's first offensive play of the game. He decided to test Marshall's secondary and lofted a ball down the right sideline to Quincy McDuffie. But junior Derrick Thomas was there in coverage and came down with the ball.
The second came at the start of the second half and killed a 14-play, 78-yard drive that got the Knights as close as the Marshall 3-yard line. A holding penalty pushed UCF back to Marshall's 13 and on third and goal, redshirt junior linebacker Billy Mitchell stepped in front of Bortles' pass and returned it 25 yards.
"The quarterback rolled out and I saw the back come across my face," Mitchell said. "I saw him eye him down the whole time and I just stepped in front of it."
It was Marshall's first multiple-interception game since the Herd picked off three East Carolina passes on Nov. 26, 2011. Yet while the Herd recorded three turnovers Saturday, also recovering a Storm Johnson fumble in the fourth quarter, it could turn none of them into points.
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INJURIES BIT the Herd before and during Saturday's game. Marshall began the contest without starting kick and punt returner Andre Snipes-Booker. Snipes-Booker, also a reserve slot receiver, was still recovering from a concussion. Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said the senior should be ready for Saturday's 2 p.m. game against Memphis.
Holliday was less sure about the availability of several other players. Corner Keith Baxter left the game at one point in obvious pain, holding his right shoulder. He returned later, which was lucky for the Herd, as corner Derrick Thomas left the game as well. Senior safety Dominick LeGrande also spent time hurt on the sideline, thinning the secondary even further.
Senior defensive captain Devin Arrington was done for the night in the second half. The starting weak-side linebacker had a brace wrapped around his right leg.
"It's part of the game," said Mitchell, who returned for the Southern Miss game after missing the previous six with a concussion. "Not everyone's going to be healthy. I experienced it first-hand. You can't blame it on injuries. We have to have confidence that the person behind us knows exactly what he's doing and can make the same plays."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.