HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Alex Bazzie has roamed the halls of Marshall University for a long time. But the redshirt senior defensive end saw something unique in his Thundering Herd football team's win over Florida Atlantic this past Saturday.
"With all my years here at Marshall, all the games I've experienced, that's the first actual game where we won in that fashion and the first game you see a team," he said. "The defense somehow found a way to give the offense a chance. The offense found a way to give special teams a chance and special teams found a way to satisfy the whole team."
The Herd found itself staring at plenty of hurdles against the Owls - down by nine in the fourth quarter on the road with the momentum swinging in the other team's direction. Marshall cleared every one of them in its last-second 24-23 win. That gives the Herd (4-2, 2-0 Conference USA) a boost heading into its week-plus of preparation for Middle Tennessee State.
Marshall visits the Blue Raiders, another first-year C-USA school, Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1).
The Herd's locker room atmosphere will be quite different entering this off week than it was entering the last one, off a triple-overtime loss at Virginia Tech that was Marshall's second straight setback. It was another disappointing close game as well. The Herd's two losses this season were by a total of 11 points.
This time, Marshall scraped together 10 points in the game's final 6:47 to go two games over .500, the latest the Herd has hit that mark in a season since it was 5-3 on its way to a 7-6 finish in 2009.
"Going into a bye week with a win is great," Bazzie said. "It creates confidence. You don't go into the bye week shaken up and looking for your errors with that bad feeling. You go in thinking, yeah, we pulled this one out and did it as a team.
"You go in not looking to identify yourself," he added. "You go in looking to fix a couple of little things so, the following week, you don't find yourself in the same position."
When the Herd has found itself in that position - clawing for a win in a close game - in the past two seasons, they usually didn't like the result. Entering the FAU game, Marshall was 2-6 in its last eight games decided by eight points or fewer.