Fulton and Marshall were both looking for an offensive resurgence on Friday night. The Owls found it.
Fulton lost its sixth game 30-7 to remain winless and give Marshall its first on its homecoming night, rushing for 353 yards and four touchdowns.
Marshall (1-5, 1-3 NCMC) went into Friday averaging 6 points per game, the lowest in the North Central Missouri Conference and the first time it has averaged less than 10 ppg on offense since 2011. Fulton (0-6, 0-4 NCMC) went in with the second-lowest points per game in the conference, at 17.6, and were looking to get more Hornets in the hive involved.
Junior quarterback Dustin Hagens was efficient throwing the ball, completing 11-for-18 of his passes but also having one interception. Junior Walker Gohring would once again shine on offense with four catches for 109 yards, but Fulton was only able to accumulate 74 yards on seven catches with four other receivers.
Head coach Dana Chambers said Fulton wasn't able to accomplish this goal despite the fact the Hornets finished with 302 yards of total offense — only 86 behind Marshall's total. The Hornets had the Owls beat in turnovers and penalties, though, as Fulton made too many self-inflicted errors as it has done in previous weeks.
"We couldn't get out of our way offensively," Chambers said. "We had some dropped balls that should have went for scores. Defensively, we played well at times, forced a couple turnovers (on interceptions by senior Paul Houf and Gohring). We just need to do a better job offensively of scoring and putting our drives together."
Fulton had four turnovers and 10 penalties compared with Marshall's two and three. Gohring had some struggles in the backfield, losing two of the fumbles, while junior Josh Reams lost the other one. Chambers also said Fulton missed out on at least a couple touchdowns because of dropped balls in the receiving corps, with one occurring in the second quarter that would have allowed an easy walk-in score and another later in the game that was placed over the defender but wasn't held onto near the goal line that would have set up a good chance for a touchdown.
Chambers said Fulton had Gohring take some handoffs in Friday's game to help establish what the Hornets have failed to do on a consistent basis: running the football. Out of its 302 total yards, Fulton rushed for 120 yards on 28 carries, and Reams was the team's leading rusher at 64 yards on eight carries.
"Our strategy was to run the ball," Chambers said. "We couldn't get that going up front so we had to throw the ball a little bit more. We made some plays there, but it wasn't enough. We had a lot of penalties like a holding and a false start. Those things can't happen."
Marshall scored the first of three rushing touchdowns in the first half to take an early 6-0 lead within two minutes.
Fulton scored in less time but on special teams. The Hornet offense was held in check, but Gohring was not on an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 7-6 Fulton.
Marshall scored touchdowns Nos. 2 and 3 only about two minutes apart in the second quarter to take a 22-7 halftime lead. The Owls had a couple of runs of at least 50 yards, exploiting a Fulton defense that has been susceptible to the big play.
The Owls added another rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to secure its first 30-point game since their 59-21 victory against Fulton last season.
Chambers said Marshall's offense didn't surprise Fulton as the Owls just were able to run its offense well behind its group of running backs, like Axavier Reed and Rowdy Souder, who ran hard and carried the offense on their 52 carries.
If the Hornets didn't stall their own drives with the numerous miscues, Chambers said it could have been a more competitive game. Fulton now has to put this loss behind them and focus on beating the team on the other sideline, starting with this week's home game against Kirksville (4-3, 3-1 NCMC).
"Our strategy doesn't need to change on offense," he said. "We just need to execute better and need to have a great focus week at practice so our boys will be dialed in."