MARSHALL – Kurt Traylor could finally breathe.

Moments earlier, his star quarterback, Chance Amie, recovered an onside kick to effectively put away the Marshall Mavericks. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was. Late mistakes allowed the Mavericks to get back into the game. But Tyler Lee eked out a 29-27 victory.

Traylor hugged his wife and kids, smiled and posed for pictures. One game into his tenure as the Red Raiders’ coach, his record is unblemished.

“It’ll sink in,” Traylor said. “I’ll get phone calls and text messages from all my ex players and coaches. It’s huge. I hope there’s a lot more than this.”

Lee was up 29-14 with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter. The game appeared out of reach when a fumble from LaDarius Wickware opened the door. Shortly after, Marshall’s Rodarius Smith broke free for a 59-yard touchdown to cut the score to 29-20. The two-point conversion failed, seemingly closing the door again.

But when the Mavericks got possession again, they weren’t ready to let the game end. They marched down the field and a long pass to Jerry Davis put them inside the 10. With only eight seconds left, Smith scored again. An onside kick was now inevitable.

Unfortunately for the Marshall fans who stayed, the comeback wouldn’t come to fruition. Amie quelled all hopes when he recovered, then promptly took a knee on the next play to end the game.

Amie, a Houston commit, led the Red Raiders on more occasions than the last play. He finished with 246 yards and two touchdowns, both to junior Zaylon Walker.

“He makes you a better player,” Walker said. “He always puts it right on the dot.”

Although in most cases that is true, on one of Walker’s touchdowns tonight, he was clearly the one to make the spectacular play.

Although the pass was a bit behind, Walker wasn’t deterred. He reached around the Marshall defender to make a one-handed grab behind his back then run the rest of the way for a 42-yard touchdown.

“I wasn’t supposed to go behind him, but I did anyway,” Walker said. “Chance just put the ball in a great spot and I reached around and locked it up. I wasn’t expecting it to be there though.”

For the most part, Lee spread the ball around. Nine different players came up with a reception on Friday.

It wasn’t all passing, though.

The Red Raiders leaned on junior running back Wickware for much of the second half. He broke through, using his power to barrel defenders for extra yards. He had nine rushes for five or more yards, finishing with a total of 132 to go with two touchdowns. He also opened up the scoring for Lee with a 38-yard scamper that was his longest run of the night.

Traylor said it all boils down to simplifying the game plan, something Lee did in the second half.

“I looked at our offensive coordinator and said, ‘Let’s just run simple plays.’ I knew we were better conditioned than they were and could play longer than they could.”

There is another side to Traylor’s success story.

Claude Mathis was also coaching his first game with Marshall after spending the past two seasons as an assistant at SMU. He was excruciatingly close to being in Traylor’s position. But there will be other games.

His team flashed enough potential tonight to get back on its feet. If Smith’s play was any indication, he can be relied on to carry the load at running back. Quarterback OD Sellers proved capable at times and receiver Tahj Washington showed speed.

As for Traylor, he, too, must move on quickly. It’s a long season, after all.

“It’s not about me,” Traylor said. “I talk about focusing on the fruits. We’re gonna win some games. We have great kids, a great support system. It’s exciting. Tyler, Texas, is a great place to be.”

Tyler Lee 29, Marshall 27

Tyler Lee        0   15     7     7   --   29
Marshall         7     7   0   13   --     27

First Quarter
MAR--Odarius Sellers 1 run (Jacob Suarez kick), 10:12.
Second Quarter
LEE--LaDarius Wickware 38 run (Leonel Coreas kick), 10:12.
MAR--Tahj Washington 59 catch from Sellers (Suarez kick), 8:52.
LEE--Zaylon Walker 20 catch from Chance Amie (2-point Lanthony Simmons), 5:49
Third Quarter
LEE--Walker 42 pass from Amie (Coreas kick), 7:31.
Fourth Quarter
LEE--Wickware 2 run (Coreas kick), 7:54.
MAR--Rodarius Smith 59 run, (2-point failed) 5:55
MAR--Smith 5 run, (Suarez kick), 0:08

                                           MAR                 LEE
Total Yards                            366                   416
Rushes-Yards                  27-220              69-415
Passing Yards                       146                   246
Comp.-Att.-Int.               8-28-1                14-24-0
Fumbles-Lost                       2-0                   2-1
Penalties-Yards                   5-37                4-26

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Marshall, Rodarius Smith 18-135, OD Sellers 7-47, Tahj Washington 1-32, J.J. Green 1-6. Tyler Lee, LaDarius Wickware 24-132, Chance Amie 10-3, Kameron Ross 1-4, Lanthony Simmons 8-13, Jordan Printers 3-26.
PASSING--Marshall, OD Selers 8-23-1--146. Tyler Lee, Amie 14-24-0--246.
RECEIVING--Marshall, Tahj Washington 2-60, Se'Lah Smith 1-32, DeKendrick Bender 3-44, Rodarius Smith 1-10, Adrian Williams, 1-(-5). Tyler Lee, Marquis Gray 3-52, Waylon Walker 2-62, Lanthony Simmons 2-32, Jamal Ligon 1-8, Harrison Branham 1-40, Te'Vion Massey 2-8, Malcolm Miller 1-5.