Butler knew he, Grooms and Watson had that type of performance in them, but he was a little surprised that Marshall's running game exploded like it did.
"We weren't playing much, but I knew we'd make a big difference if we did play," Butler said. "I didn't think it was going to change that much, but we did good."
Grooms felt especially motivated against the Owls. Against Ohio, at least Watson carried twice and Butler carried once. Grooms, who had led the team in rushing yards per game after the season's first two contests, did not receive a single carry.
"It made me feel like I had to prove a lot," Grooms said of his inactivity against Ohio. "I didn't feel right sitting on the sidelines knowing I can help my team win and knowing I can make plays. It gave me the opportunity, I had to take off and show everyone what I can do."
Marshall's running game was so effective that quarterback Rakeem Cato, who leads the FBS in both passing yards (370 per game) and completions (35.5 per game), told coaches to stick with the run. Cato still completed 28 of 39 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, but wasn't about to let the running game lose its momentum.
"They couldn't stop the run all night," Cato said. "I told Coach Legg to forget about the pass plays. I'll be a decoy if I have to and just hand the ball off if I have to. He wanted to call a few more pass plays, but I said no, just keep running the ball."
Marshall's running backs announced their presence in the nick of time. This coming Saturday, the Herd visits Purdue and the No. 25 run defense in the FBS, allowing just 110.33 yards per game. And after what they were able to do against the Owls, it's unlikely Grooms, Butler and Watson will be forgotten men any longer.
"Those kids get into space," Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said, "they can make something happen."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.