Marshall Rolls in Season Opener, 63-7

Updated 8/31/2000

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    Nate Poole
    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Chanston Rodgers ran for three touchdowns and Byron Leftwich threw for two more in their first starts as Marshall beat Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State 63-7 on Thursday night.

    The sophomores helped Marshall run its winning streaks to 18 overall and 32 straight at home, both tops in Division I-A.

    Marshall compiled 573 yards in total offense and held the Indians scoreless over the final three quarters.

    Rodgers, returning from a torn knee ligament suffered in spring practice, scored on second-quarter runs of 2 and 7 yards and added a 5-yarder in the third period. He had only 25 yards rushing on seven carries as part of Marshall's three-back rotation.

    Leftwich, who missed most of last season with injuries and received a medical redshirt, took over this year for Heisman Trophy finalist Chad Pennington. Leftwich went 13-of-20 for 205 yards before sitting out most of the second half.

    The 63 points were the most scored by Marshall in an opener since a 71-7 victory over Morehead State in 1994. It was the most allowed by Southeast Missouri since it moved up from Division II in 1991.

    The game was little more than a tuneup for Marshall as it prepares for non-conference games at Michigan State and North Carolina.

    It marked the debut of Southeast Missouri coach Tim Billings, a Marshall assistant the past 10 years and its defensive coordinator last season, when the Herd ranked second in the nation in fewest points allowed at 10 per game.

    Billings used those same schemes Thursday and they worked for awhile. The game was tied at 7 until midway through the second quarter when Rodgers and Leftwich helped Marshall score on its final three drives for a 28-7 halftime lead.

    Early in the second half, Southeast Missouri backup punter Nick Reggio put his knee to the ground while fielding a low snap at his 5-yard line. Marshall took over and Rodgers scored two plays later for a 35-7 lead.

    On Marshall's next possession, Lanier Washington returned a punt 33 yards to the Southeast Missouri 10, setting up Ernest Pitts' 1-yard TD run for a 42-7 lead.

    Southeast Missouri was held to 259 total yards.